The Catholic University of America

Jamie Aislinn Banister Defense

Final Examination of Jamie Aislinn Banister

For the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Thursday, October 18, 2012 2:00 p.m., Caldwell Room 125


Alexander A. Di Lella, O.F.M., Ph.D.


"Theophanies in the Minor Prophets: A Cross-Analysis of Theophanic Texts in Micah, Habakkuk, and Zechariah"

Storm-god and warrior-god theophanic motifs were widely used throughout the Ancient Near East (ANE), both in mythological and historical texts. Theophanies and theophanic motifs in the Old Testament (OT) are often found in passages, especially hymns, whose originality within the surrounding literary context is questionable; one example in the Twelve (Minor) Prophets is Habakkuk 3. A detailed cross-analysis of three theophanic texts found in Micah 7, Habakkuk 3, and Zechariah 9 provides insights into the use of storm-/warrior-god theophanic motifs within the Twelve Prophets.

This study begins with an overview of theophanies in the OT and the use of the storm-/warrior-god motifs in the ANE, followed by a survey of the history of research pertaining to compilation/redaction theories for the Twelve Prophets and to each book in which the three passages of interest appear (Mic 7:7-20; Hab 3:1-19; Zech 9:9-16). Then, I provide a close exegetical reading for each of the three passages with special attention to the use of the storm-/warrior-god motifs within each, followed by a summary of findings.

Habakkuk 3 (at least vv. 3-15) is likely the earliest of these three texts. The core theophanic material (vv. 3-15) reveals strong mythological connections with other ANE texts, including personifications of cosmic phenomena which also could be references to attendant deities. In contrast, Mic 7:7-20 and Hab 3:2, 16-19 carefully avoid any implication that Yhwh has a physical form even while employing similar vocabulary and motifs, such as a clear modification of the battle-against-the-sea motif in Mic 7:7-20 in which Yhwh battles sin and iniquity rather than mythological or historical enemies, albeit without any mention of the deity’s weapons. Finally, Zech 9:9-16 reintroduces Yhwh’s weapons; however, rather than Yhwh using traditional theophanic weapons, Yhwh’s people will function as his weapons against their enemies. Thus, a cross-analysis of these three passages specifically with respect to the storm-/warrior-god motifs reveals a pattern that parallels the theological development from a polytheistic or henotheistic perspective (which is deeply rooted in ANE mythology) to one that is more strictly monotheistic (which avoids mythological aspects of the storm-/warrior-god motifs).