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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

The Book and its Formation.

1.

Much of the book as we now have it comes from periods long after Micah's day. This is not based on a dogma that someone like Micah could not envisage any future hope, but rather on the style and thematic content of the work which suit later periods best. (Recent attempts, such as Hillers (1984) and Shaw (1993 ), to defend authorial unity do not seem convincing.) Micah's uncompromisingly negative message ( 3:12 ) was still remembered at the time of the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians and the exile of part of its population (cf. Jer. 26:17–19 ), and his words began to be read as having found fulfilment at that time, leaving its mark at a number of points in the text (Jeremias 1971 ). Such a living ‘word of the LORD’, however, could never be exhausted by a single event, and so new material which looked beyond the judgement (not instead of it) came to be added. The explicit development and reversal of Micah's own themes (see esp. ch. 4 ) indicate that this was not an arbitrary extension, but was regarded as a development of what lay already latent in the book.

2.

Finally, the whole was set in a universal and proto-apocalyptic context (see esp. 1:2 and 5:15 ), the word to Judah now being applied to the whole earth and all its peoples. It is in this final context that the book reaches us, and we do best to read it from that perspective. It is not that later additions to Micah's words need to be stripped away, but rather that the words of Micah need to take their place as a historical example of the timeless ‘word of the LORD’ ( 1:1 ), which is the book's true title.

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