I’m continuing my way through Paul Hanson’s Dawn of Apocalyptic. In my reading today, Hanson was talking about foreign nations in passages of Second Zechariah (Zechariah 9-14). God in Zechariah 9:1-8 sweeps through the nations and takes possession of them. And, when God in Zechariah 10:10-11 discusses restoring the Israelite exiles from Assyria and Egypt, Hanson does not think this refers to a specific historical conquest, but rather that these nations are being mentioned as Israel’s traditional enemies. Perhaps Hanson believes that they are symbols for Israel’s enemies, as he argues regarding Edom in Isaiah 63:1. Overall, Hanson does not appear to agree with those who look for some historical reference-points in Second Zechariah’s prophecies (as in applying them to specific historical conquests), for these prophecies reflect apocalyptic eschatology: they maintain that God at some point will intervene and create a new order. For Hanson, apocalyptic eschatology despairs of institutions in history, which is why it desires God’s direct intervention.
Another point Hanson makes is that Second Zechariah lambastes Israel’s leaders, which he believes reflects the post-exilic struggle between realists and visionaries. On page 335, he states that “the prophetic genre of the taunt against the foreign nations is adopted and given a double ironic twist to form a sharp barb against Israel’s leaders.” Hanson acknowledges that there was criticism of oppression even in pre-exilic Israel. But my impression (on which I’m open to correction) is that he believes that the idea of a faithful minority in Israel being set in contrast with the Israelite establishment is distinctly post-exilic. On page 194, he states that the “dichotomy between the wicked leaders of the community and the oppressed minority of the faithful…is at the heart of the new salvation-judgment genre…”
I think that I Kings 19:18 presents a faithful remnant, and yet that passage is not apocalyptic, for it does not expect God to dramatically intervene to create a new order; rather, unlike apocalyptic, it expects God to work within existing historical structures—Jehu, Syria, etc. As far as classical prophecy goes, there is talk about a remnant, but the remnant is not exactly presented as faithful and righteous; rather, it simply consists of the people who are left after foreign invaders do their business. But I’m open to correction on this. So far, I’m persuaded by Hanson’s characterization of apocalyptic as a belief in God’s future dramatic intervention, apart from historical structures. And, while divisions within post-exilic Israel may have led to that, there were probably divisions within Israel before those days. Hanson talks about all sorts of disputes in the pre-exilic period, such as inner-priestly arguments. But Hanson may be right that there was something distinctive about the divisions in post-exilic Israel. A couple of times, he says that the divisions pertained to who was truly Israel. In Isaiah 63:16, for example, the speakers affirm that God is their father, even though Abraham and Israel do not acknowledge them.