Ezekiel: A Cosmic Drama
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Ezekiel the Tragedian re-frames the exodus account as a Greek tragic drama in iambic trimeter, suggesting the original was written in Greek. Dated to the 2nd century BCE, the short drama reflects traditions of the Septuagint, a 3rd-2nd century BCE translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek. Among various reworked elements of Exodus, the inclusion of a Phoenix at the end of the drama is the most intriguing to me.
Secondly, the phoenix in compared to a triumphant bull. Common within Mediterranean and ancient Near Eastern theology and mythology is the representation of gods as bulls. In this case, the phoenix is likened to a bull. Already associated with deity, the association of the phoenix with a bull further suggests that drama writer wants the audience/reader to recognize the phoenix as a manifestation of the deity active in the exodus drama. Of course, in this drama, the deity is Yahweh, the Judean god during the 2nd century BCE.
Khary Payton (born May 16, 1972) is an American actor. He is known for his roles as King Ezekiel on the horror drama series The Walking Dead and Dr. Terrell Jackson on the soap opera General Hospital, as well as voicing Cyborg across various DC media and Kaldur'ahm / Aqualad in the animated series Young Justice.
I saw some things going on last year that were associated with this cosmic event and posted them on FB. Some were saved on word as I did them there first before posting. The following are two posted, the first an article with comment:
The pronouncement of life to the dry bones, against natural laws, rational human imagination and common sense, resurrected and resuscitated the bodily forms into living humans as a 'vast army' (v. 10). According to Eichrodt, this vision of salvation, inward recreation and national restoration of Israel is 'so full of dramatic power' (1970:506) which came in response to the prophetic declarative word. Blenkinsopp (1990:173) perceives this life-giving event as a reenactment of the primal act of creation put paripassu with the incident of Genesis 2:7. Block explains that the corpses were revived by the specific direct act of Yahweh, for it is him who infused them with breath. Hence, 'the two-phased process of resuscitation also serves a theologico-anthropological function, emulating the paradigm of Yahweh's creation of [Adam]' (Block 1998:379).
Yahweh's self-revelation to the prophet in the divine drama of the theology of his presence, resurrection and resuscitation and restoration was to culminate in a recognitive theological import (vv. 5-6, 13-14). The basic theological motivation for this revival, which was to later culminate in Yahweh's eschatological restoration, is situated in the prophet's use of the recognition formula, 'Then you will know that I am the LORD' (vv. 6b, 13, 14b). All the occurrences of the recognition formula or motif in Ezekiel are directed either to all the Gentile nations in view of their oppressive relationship to national Israel or specifically to Israel in view of her infidel covenant relationship with Yahweh. According to Ralph Alexander (1986):
In Ezekiel's text, the function of the recognition formula serves to achieve an awesome recognition and admission of the greatness, power, and supreme authority of Yahweh on the part of the targeted recipients of the prophetic message. Also, it functions to achieve the purpose of clarification in perception of the unique personhood and acts of the divine as the latter are seen displayed in the cosmic order or historic events. In this regard, the recognition formula functions as an enhancer to achieve a deepened understanding of Yahweh in all the embodiment of his glory, dignity, and majesty. (Biwul 2013:226)
Why are the majority of African nations not able to 'forge a distinctive destiny apart from the Western world' since independence? (Kaunda 2016:56). The pictures revealed by a screenplay of the storyline of the dilemma of many African societies are more worrisome than what the exiled Jews experienced. As Agboluaje lamented, 'Ours is a society with a notable feature of affluence, exploitation and profit motive with [a] moral standard sinking into disrepute' (2007:181). The enigmatic African drama lies in the manner in which her political leaders go about the administration and governance of their nations. Most are acting like the Babylonian captors by their attitude that is grounded on egocentric benefits and a protectivist motif of their future interests. Research indicates (Vlassenroot & Raeymaekers 2008) that a political protectivist armed group ideology is becoming a widespread phenomenon in Africa because some egocentric political leaders want to hold on to power. The situation in Zimbabwe, Northern Sudan and Cameroon where their political leaders have remained tight-fisted to the presidency are clear examples. The rise in more ethnic militias and their fight for resource control in places such as South Sudan and South-South in Nigeria is a clear indication of a seeming collapse of the political system. Such a politico-economic struggle that lacks national orientation forces many Africans to wonder if 'The labour of their heroes' past', like the expended efforts of African nationalists, is now in vain.
1. While various genres are extant (Coetzee 2016:1) regarding the conceptualisation, ideological perception, linguistic expressions and theological interpretation of eschatology, prophetic eschatology is predominantly hope inclined or predisposed. As was the case with the Jews of every generation, Africans too always recourse to a future hope principle in difficult or challenging times. 2. The Jewish prophets were sages, poets and theologians. Their books are 'works of theology' (Gowan 1998:1) because in them the prophets claim to explain Yahweh's role and action in historical events. Such theological import plays out in Ezekiel's imagery of 'Dry Bones'. 3. Nissinen, Seow and Robert (2003:1-2) consider prophetic function as a process of human transmission of the divine message which consists of four components: the divine sender of the message, the message itself, the human transmitter of the message and the recipient of the message. Here, prophets used imageries to transmit the divine message through the prophetic word. 4. The Hebrew ~c,[,, translated as 'bone' is used elsewhere in the Old Testament. It appears in its poetic form (Gn 2:23; Pr 15:30) and in its literal form used elsewhere in Ezekiel (Ezk 39:15). The plural form tAmc.[; also has a dual function. It functions in both its literal sense (Ex 13:19; Jos 24:32; 2 Sm 21:12-14; 2 Ki 23:14; 2 Ki 23:18; 2 Ki 23:20) and in its poetic sense (Ps 51:10; Pr 14:30; Jr 8:1; Am 2:1). 5. The oppressor and the oppressed, the strong and the weak and the rich and poor in society all suffer the effects whenever natural disasters come upon an environment. The reality of cosmic mishaps, disasters and catastrophes in human society are non-discriminatory on the basis of persons, gender, status, race, colour, country of citizenship or tribe. Like the Assyrian and Babylonian captives who suffered the consequences, so it is the case here. The nature of calamities is like death that spares no one when it strikes. The state of despondency, hopelessness and despair is a disaster-like experience with disenfranchising effects. 6. One way to resolve such threatening issues, from a religious angle, is the proposed methodological framework by Magezi and Magezi (2017): an appropriate understanding of Christ's sinlessness is helpful in addressing the challenges of African spiritual insecurity. Yet, not all disenfranchised and despondent Africans subscribe to this strand of religious orientation so they could apply such suggested therapy to life. 7. The undergirding ideology behind the expression of ethnic and tribal sentiments in Africa is grounded in the quest for one's identity and belongingness. The expressive indicators are common features such as culture, customs, tradition, language, kinship, homeland and shared ancestry (Kissi & van Eck 2017:1; Maigadi 2006:19). 8. While ethnic and tribal identity is sociologically grounded in the biblical text (Gn 11), a negative expression of it becomes incongruous to a harmonious society (Maigadi 2006). 9. At an academic level, it could easily be asserted that a consensus understanding of conceptualising, quantifying and responding to poverty is difficult (Tenai 2016:1). It could even be queried further that a precise consensus working definition of poverty is lacking. For instance, is poverty defined on specific income level, seen as a relative term, or is it to be understood at an exclusion and deprivation social level? (Galson & Hoffenberg 2010:2). One could, in fact, add whether a clear identification of a poor person is tenable. Such queries only satisfy an insatiable academic thirst and curiosity and remain at such level. When poverty is theorised to achieve a well-conceptualised understanding, it naturally achieves academic logic and is detached from its contextual reality. Real empirical poverty is an experienced reality that is practical. It is not only heard but seen, touched and felt physiologically, sociologically, psychologically and emotionally. A husband who loses his wife to the pangs of death because he is unable to afford medical treatment for her, or a parent who loses a child to the same fate for their financial incapacitation to treat the child, does not need a definition of poverty nor does such a person need any explanation regarding the nature and effects of poverty. Poverty is a lived experience only to the truly poor in Africa. 10. Greed is a viral disease of the mind and attitude, and it serves as a fertile ground for these repressing predators. The presence of greed is highly infectious to a functional growing African economy. 11. More on such moral corruption is extant. Substandard road construction work and buildings have become the norm in many African states. Yet such evil and murderous-like acts are perpetrated with the connivance of some government inspectorate officials who approve such substandard work for a specified kickback. It is not surprising to find in some African countries that funds are paid for jobs that have never been executed or haphazardly executed at the detriment of the African economy and development. 2b1af7f3a8