The History of Israel has always been conditioned by the weight of the Old Testament in that the latter, with its complex editorial character and its quite special theological value, is practically the only source. After a long phase during which stories about Israel took shape as a redactional post-canonical stratum, and after research into archaeological and philological parallels in the surrounding Near East with a view to drawing up an enormous hypertext, modern research seemed to have rightly settled for a kind of "proto-historical" use of archaeological documentation connected with distribution of textual data according to periods of redaction or reworking. Moreover, recent tendencies of a "post-modern" type, implicitly or explicitly denying the existence of a real referent for the historiographic account, are likely to exhaust once again the historical reconstruction of the biblical text at the level of criticism (ideological, literary, theological or other).
Despite the questionable method and positions of the Jesus Seminar, the third quest for the historical Jesus has resulted in seven notable gains as compared with the old quests. (1) The third quest has an ecumenical and international character. (2) It clarifies the question of reliable sources. (3) It presents a more accurate picture of first-century Judaism. (4) It employs new insights from archaeology, philology, and sociology. (5) It clarifies the application of criteria of historicity. (6) It gives proper attention to the miracle tradition. (7) It takes the Jewishness of Jesus with utter seriousness.
The article attempts for the first time to trace the tradition of the seer Balaam (Num 2224) with the aid of questions asked by reception history. In contradistinction to previous works it becomes clear in this way that the differing positive or negative presentation of the figure of Balaam in texts dependent on Num 2224 can be explained above all by the attitude of the relevant recipient to the problem of the foreign in relation to the people of God. It becomes apparent that the method of reception history presents a significant supplement to exegetic tools, that makes possible fresh historical insights into the content and effect of biblical texts.
Just as after the Abraham passage of 3,6-12 Christ is mentioned in 3,13 quite unexpectedly, so also after 4,21-31, Pauls so-called allegory which deals with the wives and sons of Abraham, the sudden statement about Christ in 5,1 cannot but surprise the reader. Although the word order differs, both vocabulary and content of parts of 3,13a and 5,1a are identical or at least similar. Abrahams faith was already, by way of anticipation, Christian faith. Moreover, "those of faith" in 3,7 and 9 implicitly are believers in Christ. This also applies to 4,26. The children of "the Jerusalem above" are free because they belong to Christ, even if in v. 26 this is not (yet) explicitly stated. Therefore, a seemingly brusque transition from the Abraham text or the allegory to Christ should not disturb the reader too much.
The image of bringing in, which, in dependence on Hellenistic parousia depictions, denotes the bringing in of the Lord at his coming, does not fit the imagery and the theology of Paul in 1 Thess 4,13-18. Hellenistic parousias depict the citizens making the royal visitor welcome in their city, whereas 1 Thess 4,13-18 depicts the effect of the Lords coming on them. The faithful are raised; the faithful are taken up. 1 Thess 4,13-18 really depicts the bringing in of the faithful, not of the Lord. The implication is that they do not return to the earth, but stay with the Lord forever.
Matthew handles his material in order to relate Jesus anointing, healing, and his title "Son of David". Matthew does this in order to present Jesus as the uniquely anointed "Christ", the Son of David who has come to heal, and who is in that respect (and others), greater than his father David.
Some crucial elements of the compositional structure of the "war of YHWH" which can be found in Exod 14, Josh 10, Judg 4 and 1 Sam 7, equally occur in Exod 23,20-33. The differences between the latter text and the former pericopes, however, point into the conclusion that Exod 14, Josh 10, Judg 4 and 1 Sam 7 on the one hand and Exod 23,20-33 on the other are separate witnesses of an earlier tradition about YHWH as warrior.