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

The Literature and its Formation.

1.

Haggai is an odd book, difficult to characterize. If one consults the NRSV, one finds a text translated entirely as prose. Were such the case, Haggai and Malachi would be the only prophetic books to include no poetry (at least according to NRSV). By contrast, the editors of the MT deem 1:4–11; 2:3–9, 14 , and portions of vv. 22–3 as poetry, a judgement also followed in part by NAB. Although the boundary between poetry and prose in classical Hebrew is notably difficult to discern, it is reasonable to follow those who have identified some poetry in the book, notably, many of those verses in which Haggai or others are speaking (cf. Christensen 1993 ).

2.

The book initially appears to be a collection of oracles, e.g. 1:7–11 or 2:21–3 , that have been integrated by complex dating formulae, e.g. 1:1; 2:10 . But there is also material very much like a chronicle, i.e. 1:12–14 . It is possible to view the entire book as a brief historical account (Petersen 1984 ). This account memorializes the building of the temple and emphasizes the importance of Haggai, along with Zerubbabel and Joshua, in accomplishing this task.

3.

Scholars have offered various theories about the composition of the book. Beuken (1967 ) thinks the oracles were edited by someone such as the Chronicler. Mason (1977 ) pursues a similar argument, though without equating the redactor with the Chronicler. Wolff (1988 ) discerns three stages of growth: the prophetic speeches, sketches of scenes (e.g. 1:12b–13 ), and the word occurrence formulae (e.g. 2:10 ). Meyers and Meyers (1987 ) and Tollington (1993 ) think similar hands were responsible for both Haggai and Zechariah 1–8 , whereas Bauer (1992) and Pierce (1984a , 1984b ) see Haggai and Zechariah 1–8 , together with Malachi, as forming a compositional group. Although there is no scholarly consensus, most discern a rather complicated process of literary formation, according to which Haggai's own words have been preserved and edited by others.

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