Micah, A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary

  • Francis I. Andersen, David Noel Freedman
  • Jan 1, 2002
  • Series: Volume 5 - 2002

Andersen, Francis I., and David Noel Freedman. Micah, A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Anchor Bible, vol. 24E. New York: Doubleday. 2000. xxv + 637 pp. $42.50 hb. ISBN 0-385-08402-1.

"Thorough" is the best word to describe this volume. In keeping with their earlier contributions to the Anchor Bible series (Hosea, vol. 24, 1980; Amos, vol. 24A, 1989), Andersen and Freedman have provided another incredibly detailed analysis of an eighth century prophetic book.

The Introduction is far-ranging (pp. 3-29), discussing the usual topics found in exegetical commentaries: survey of scholarship, composition, structure, date, and historical backgrounds. Yet, there are some interesting items not commonly found in works of this sort: Micah's relationship to the possible redaction of the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets (p. 20; also later in connection with the book's heading, pp. 103-5, 112-13) and the Masoretic divisions of the book within the Hebrew text and their viability in comparison with modern notions of units and coherence (pp. 14-16). In light of their work on Hosea and Amos, it is not surprising to read that the authors are suspicious of much of the scholarly effort invested in trying to excavate hypothetical layers of redaction behind the final form. Even though Andersen and Freedman are willing to entertain up to a point the possibility that some material (especially from chapters 4 and 5) comes from the period of the Babylonian exile, in several places they declare that the primary focus of their study will be the canonical text of Micah (e.g., pp. 17, 21, 26). The Introduction is followed by a lengthy bibliography of 67 pages (pp. 33-99)!

Andersen and Freedman divide the book into three main sections: chapters 1-3, 4-5, 6-7. The commentary on each of these sections is introduced by a presentation of the structure and major themes, issues that are then repeated and reviewed with much more detail at the conclusion of each section. For example, "The Book of Doom" has this opening piece on pages 130-32 and its summary on pages 388-91. The commentary on each pericope is preceded by a transliteration from the Hebrew in parallel with the authors' translation, which is then followed by a translation of the LXX into English. As we have come to expect from Andersen and Freedman, the discussion of the biblical text is very rich in lexical and structural information, all of which underscore how carefully Micah has been analyzed (e.g., note the discussion on the pronouns in chpt. 6, pp. 552-57). Interspersed are interesting sidebars to other issues (such as why Micah does not appear in the Deuteronomistic History, pp. 106-7).

As is the case of any commentary, there will be points of disagreement with positions taken at several junctures. I mention just a few. Andersen and Freedman believe that Samaria, which is mentioned explicitly only in 1:1, 5 is implicitly present within the prophet's view in other passages. In their minds, the heading requires that the interest in the capital of the Northern Kingdom not be limited to one other verse in chapter one. This notion, it seems to me, is difficult to defend in light of the paucity of the evidence. Some also might take issue with the reluctance to be more specific with the concrete references behind the text, although the caution to recognize that the individual oracles yield very little historical information might be well taken (Much of the discussion regarding historical backgrounds first appears in regards to the title, pp. 103-29). In addition, I disagree on occasion with some of the literary readings. For instance, I would take the set of questions posed by the people (6:6-7) in response to Yahweh's indictment of 6:1-5 not as sincere, like the authors do, but rather as reflective of their total misunderstanding of the nature of the cult and perhaps as an attempt to "buy off" or appease God (compare Hos. 6:1-3). Lastly, the comment on page 24 that most of the work on the volume was completed before 1993 is surprising, to say the least! On the one hand, one wonders why the volume was delayed for so long; on the other hand, to have been able to have incorporated more recent scholorship into this very good volume would have made it even better.

This massive commentary should be a standard for years to come. Serious students of this Minor Prophet need to have this book on their shelves. To open and read one's Hebrew (and English) text along side of this work will be a rewarding experience.

M. Daniel Carroll R.
Professor of Old Testament
Denver Seminary