Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Exegetical Theology

First Advisor

Paul R. Raabe

Scripture References in this Resource

Zephaniah 3:8-9; Zephaniah 2:1-3:13; Zephaniah 3:8-9; Zephaniah 1:2-6


When I started doctoral work, I had no intention of doing anything in the Latter Prophets. Perhaps it is my earlier accounting training, but wrestling with the details of the historical books and mining them for theological insights has always had my interest. The Latter Prophets involved the difficulties of understanding Hebrew poetry, searching for referents, and trying to make sense of a message that was delivered in a context to which I am barely connected. Unfortunately, one day I found myself without a dissertation topic (a previous topic idea proved to be unworkable). In the mercies of God, Dr. Paul Raabe, my Doktorvater, did not just send me to the library to start working on another topic. Rather he suggested a problem that he had noticed in Zephaniah scholarship: their handling of the juxtaposition of the complete destruction of the world in 3:8 and the conversion of the world in 3:9. He suggested that I look at this book and see what I could come up with.

I was grateful for his suggestion, especially since he did not suggest something in Isaiah. I found that Zephaniah is studied well enough that there was sufficient secondary literature off of which to bounce ideas. However, I discovered that, despite all these works, only a couple even seemed to notice the juxtaposition or deal with it. Further, those attempts fell well short of what I felt was an acceptable solution.

Part of being a student of Dr. Raabe means that you will pay extremely close attention to the lexical and grammatical details of the text. I examined every word of 2:1-3:13 and asked myself if there was meaning in each grammatical construction. I took no one's word, but ran down everything that I could until I was satisfied. I hope that even if those who read my thesis do not accept my conclusion, at least my attention to detail will make it defensible.

Trying to solve the problem is in itself a contribution to scholarship. What has made the project even more interesting and fulfilling was following Dr. Raabe's suggestion to see what speech-act theory might contribute. When I started working with it, I thought that maybe it would help confirm what I would discover through detailed exegesis. When I began to apply it in chapter 6, however, I was elated to discover how much it contributed to the interpretation itself. It seems to me that one of the contributions of this dissertation is the demonstration that simply asking about illocutionary and perlocutionary forces can be a real asset in interpreting biblical texts.

Zephaniah has been my constant companion for the last two years. I am grateful for his message of constancy in the face of opposing forces and pray that I can rise to the level of one of his ideal hearers.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.