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Divine Wrath & Divine Mercy in the World of Antiquity

Forschungen zum Alten Testament Series No. 2, Vol. 33

By Reinhard G. Kratz and Hermann Spieckermann, eds.
December 2008
Mohr Siebeck
Distributed by Coronet Books
ISBN: 9783161498206
279 pages, 9 1/8 x 6 1/8 "
$112.00 Paper Original

Wrath and mercy of the gods were some of the significant religious features in antiquity. They interpret human experiences of suffering and affliction as well as those of protection and welfare. Due to the different characters and responsibilities of the deities, a remarkable range of constellations of divine benevolence and malevolence becomes evident, sometimes without allowing insight into the motives of the decisions made.

This is why the actions of the gods are often viewed as emotional and arbitrary, lacking any degree of transparency. Consequently, the gods are subjected to philosophical and theological criticism. They are regarded by some as unreliable and obscure in any case, while others launch an attack on them, questioning their existence. The relationship between divine wrath and mercy requires a great deal of perception in the monotheistic religions, as it is no longer possible to attribute wrath and mercy to different deities.

Wrath and mercy become characteristic features of one god only. In all monotheistic religions, it is a matter of theological concern to question the relationship between wrath and mercy on the basis of authoritative texts and religious experience. The comparison of these approaches provides valuable information on the very essence of the religions investigated from this central perspective.

Survey of contents:


Hermann Spieckermann: Wrath and Mercy as Crucial Terms of Theological Hermeneutics

Ancient Near East

Louise Gestermann: Zorn und Gnade ägyptischer Götter - Manfred Krebernik: "Wo einer in Wut ist, kann kein anderer ihm raten." Zum göttlichen Zorn im Alten Orient - Billie Jean Collins: Divine Wrath and Mercy in the Religions of the Hittites and Hurrians - Kyle McCarter: When the Gods Lose Their Temper. Divine Rage in Ugaritic Myth and the Hypostasis of Anger in Iron Age Religion - Reinhard G. Kratz: Chemosh’s Wrath and Yahweh’s No. Ideas of God’s Wrath in Moab and Israel - Karl William Weyde: "Has God Forgotten Mercy, in Anger Withheld his Compassion?" Names and Concepts of God in the Elohistic Psalter


Michael Bordt SJ: Platon über Gottes Zorn und seine Barmherzigkeit - Peter Schenk: Darstellung und Funktion des Zorns der Götter in antiker Epik - Markus Witte: "Barmherzigkeit und Zorn Gottes" im Alten Testament am Beispiel des Buchs Jesus Sirach - Jörg Frey: God is Love. On the Textual Tradition and Semantics of a Core Expression of the Christian Notion of God

Late Antiquity

Aharon Shemesh: An Offer God Can’t Refuse. The Punishment of Flagellation in Rabbinic Theology - Gunnar af Hällström: The Wrath of God and His Followers. Early Christian Considerations - Todd Lawson: Allah’s Wrath and Mercy