Research

 

 

For Mettinger’s farewell lecture in which he surveys his research click on either of the links below for the English or the Swedish version.

"Report from a Scholar's Life: My Work on the Enigmas of the Notions
   of God" (PDF).


"Om gudsbildens gåtor: Rapport från ett forskarliv" (PDF).

 

In two monographs (1971; 1976) Tryggve Mettinger dealt with various aspects of Israelite kingship, notably royal administration and sacral legitimation of power (royal ideology). He dealt with such aspects as the role of the popular assembly, the anointing of the king, and the designation of the king as son of God. In a later paper he carried out an in-depth analysis of the Prophecy of Nathan (2 Samuel 7) (2005b; update in 2008c). He found an old kernel in the text that had the function of pro-Solomon propaganda cast in the form of an oracle to David.

He has devoted several studies to the notions of God in ancient Israel. Here he first focused on the ideas connected with various divine names, such as YHWH, The Lord Sabaoth, and others. This book (Namnet och närvaron, 1987; In Search of God, 1988) has appeared in an updated Italian version (In Cerca di Dio, 2009). It has been published in English, Swedish, Spanish, Corean and Italian. The Swedish version of this book is available for free downloading:

"Namnet och närvaron" (PDF).

Another major study(The dethronent of Sabaoth: studies in the Shem and Kabod theologies,1982) deals with the Zion-Sabaoth theology and its successors during the period of the Exile: the theologies focusing on the divine Name and Glory in the sanctuary (the Shem and Kabod theologies). These two concepts were understood by Mettinger as responses to the cognitive dissonance caused by the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem by the Babylonian conquerors.

Another field of interest in Mettinger’s research is Israelite aniconism, cult without images. In a monograph (No graven image, 1995) and a number of related papers (notably 2006) Mettinger placed this phenomenon in a wider ancient Near Eastern context. Israelite aniconism was from the beginning an outstanding feature of Israelite religion. Ultimately it has its background in the standing-stones aniconism that Mettinger sees as characteristic of different West Semitic forms of religion. He argued for the aniconic character of the official cult at the Jerusalem temple, thus confronting a number of scholars who surmised the presence of a cultic statue of YHWH in the Holy of Holies.


In a subsequent monograph (The riddle of resurrection, 2001) Mettinger subjected the notion of the Dying god to a thorough analysis. He criticized a century of evasive strategies and arrived at the conclusion that the Semitic world did have a number of dying and rising deities: Baal, Adonis, Melqart, and Eshmun. He returned to this issue in a subsequent paper (2005a).


Throughout his life, Mettinger has taken an interest in literature and literary theory as developed in the discipline of Comparative Literature. In a monograph (1983) he took his farewell to the so called ”Servant Songs”. In a paper from 1993 he studied intertextuality and outlined recent developments in this field using two Job passages as examples. In another essay he studied 2 Samuel 7 in the perspective of rhetoric of persuasion (2005b; update in 2008c).


In his two most recent monographs Mettinger deals with the primeval history in the Bible, notably the Creation and Fall narratives. In his monograph on the latter (The Eden Narrative, 2007) Mettinger uses such techniques as narratology, genre analysis and study of theme.

The monograph with the title I begynnelsen (2011; update 2013) is available only in Swedish. It adopts the same literary perspectives as in the Eden book. In addition Mettinger raises the question whether modern astrophysics leaves room for a meaningful belief in a Creator. The final chapter is devoted to this issue. Mettinger first surveys the development of astrophysics leading up to the victory of the Big Bang theory and then deals with the constants of nature, whether these got their fine tuning at random or not.

 

A small monograph from 2016 deals with the Song of Songs and is available only in Swedish: Sångernas Sång: En mästares dikt om kärleken. Mettinger here applies literary perspectives to the Biblical book and understands it as a celebration of human love as a gift from the Creator.

In 2015 Eisenbrauns published a selection of Mettinger’s major contributions to journals and Festschriften etc. For a presentation of this volume click the link below:

"Reports from a Scholar’s Life: Select Papers on the Hebrew Bible: Tryggve N.D. Mettinger edited by Andrew Knapp" (PDF).

Copyright © Tryggve N.D. Mettinger.

"I try to draw a line between what I believe I know as a scholar
and what I know I believe as a Christian." 
Tryggve Mettinger