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The Date and Composition of Ezekiel
Carl Gordon Howie
“Our problem in this dissertation is to seek first an answer to the perplexing question concerning Ezekiel’s residence. Was he, as tradition maintains, a prophet of the Babylonian
? If so, why does he speak as though in Judah and Jerusalem? Again if he resides among the captives of Babylon, why are his oracles directed toward Jerusalem? The Babylonian locale has been seriously called in question by many reputable scholars, and currently a majority seems to support a Palestinian locale for our prophet. It is our plan to examine the basis for this opinion and to see how well it stands up under criticism. Closely connected with the question of residence is the fixing of a date for the individual oracles. When did the prophet live? Is tradition accurate in dating the prophet or must the date be shifted? As a matter of fact, a major question is now simply: did Ezekiel live? The language of the book, which has generally been considered late since it contains Aramaic, has an important bearing on date. Linguistic data are of such value in solving our problem that detailed consideration of the Aramaic of Ezekiel and its bearing on the date has been undertaken.
Much controversy has revolved around the strange and complicated personality of Ezekiel, who has been psychoanalyzed more often than any other individual of the Old Testament. On account of the fact that certain psychological aspects of this man are directly pertinent to the question of residence, it is in order to discuss some of the attempts at psychoanalysis and to present side lights on the prophet’s personality.
Finally the composition of the book itself presents the greatest difficulty. Many solutions have been offered as to how the prophecy assumed its present form. Irwin, Torrey, Herrmann, and a multitude of others have tried their hand, but we believe all were somewhat handicapped by their presuppositions. After a close examination of the text a detailed reconstruction of the literary evolution of the book will be sketched.
Our basic problem is to determine in so far as possible when and where Ezekiel lived. After that we hope to discover in general the manner by which this prophecy came into its present form.”
—from the introduction
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