Table Of Contents
- About the author
- About the book
- This eBook can be cited
- List of Abbreviations
- Chapter 1 Introduction
- Chapter 2 The Shepherd Metaphor in Literature on Christian Leadership and Pastoral Theology
- Chapter 3 Analysis of the Shepherd Metaphor in the Literature of the Ancient Near East and the Deuterocanonical Texts
- Chapter 4 Analysis of the Shepherd Metaphor in Pre-exilic Texts
- Chapter 5 Analysis of the Shepherd Metaphor in Exilic Texts
- Chapter 6 Analysis of the Shepherd Metaphor in Post-exilic Texts
- Chapter 7 A Comparison of the Uses of the Shepherd Metaphor in the Old Testament and in Pastoral and Leadership Models
- Chapter 8 Conclusion
- Series Index
Many people have written about the shepherd metaphor and that makes it difficult to write another one. The shepherd metaphor is a prominent and significant one in the Old Testament. However, it has shifted from an agrarian context, of shepherd and sheep in the literal sense, to a socio-political context, of rulers and people in the political sense: a king is a shepherd to the people. A careful review of the given metaphor raises the question whether the metaphor should be the basis of the pastoral and leadership models that are derived from the image of the shepherd, and whether such models can be enriched by the analysis of the said metaphor as applied to the implementation of the shepherding responsibility described in the Old Testament.
This research aims to examine various pastoral and leadership models and their use of the shepherd metaphor in the light of the significance of the said metaphor in the Old Testament. It utilizes rhetorical criticism in consultation with metaphorical theory to examine the given metaphor used in the models of pastoral and leadership roles and their relationship with the shepherd metaphor in the New Testament. The objective is threefold: (1) exploring the use of the shepherd metaphor in the Old Testament; (2) examining the use of the shepherd metaphor in pastoral and leadership models, which could include pointing out that some of these models rely heavily on their understanding of New Testament uses of this metaphor; and (3) comparing the Old Testament and pastoral/leadership models’ uses of the shepherd metaphor and drawing conclusions based on this comparison.
The scope of the research includes a review of the shepherd metaphor in the literature on Christian leadership and pastoral theology, which also includes the New Testament’s influence on the shepherd metaphor. Since the shepherd metaphor is not uniquely found in the Old Testament literature, a study of the metaphor in the ancient Near Eastern literature and deuterocanonical texts is deemed necessary to understand the significance of the said metaphor in a wider context than the Old Testament. The main ←xi | xii→research is contained in the analysis of the shepherd metaphor in the Old Testament through the historical periods of pre-exilic, exilic, and post-exilic that which the texts were composed.
The research concludes with a comparison of the uses of the shepherd metaphor in the Old Testament and in pastoral and leadership models. The analysis shows the shepherding responsibilities exhibited in the metaphor applied to God and his chosen shepherds, and it should be the foundation of any pastoral and leadership models that are based on the metaphor of the shepherd. An analysis of the uses of the shepherd metaphor in the shepherd image model to focus on a model befitting the uses in the pastoral and leadership models in the light of the shepherd metaphor in the Old Testament. The research is wrapped up with some suggestions for future study on the said metaphor, especially in social-historical and social-linguistic readings. However, it is desired to extract the biblical meaning of the shepherd metaphor in the Old Testament and to enrich its application by the analysis of the Old Testament shepherd metaphor. I would offer this book to any interested readers and serious students of the Old Testament and hope to encourage more research on the subject of the shepherd metaphor. Most of all, to our God and shepherd.
I thank God for the protection, providential care, and faithfulness he granted me during these years of study at the University of South Africa (UNISA). No one is able to conduct research alone without help in kind. However, I have conducted the research project at my residence in Canada, and therefore I do not have the privilege to exchange notes with fellow doctoral students and professors, only communicate with the latter through electronic means, which is sufficient for my circumstances, though not ideal. But God has been gracious to provide the resources that enable my research to proceed fruitfully.
I am particularly indebted to my supervisor of the Master of Theology programme in Old Testament at UNISA, Senior Lecturer Willie AG Nel, who had introduced me to more in-depth biblical scholarship in the Old Testament and specifically the study of the shepherd metaphor. It was an enlightening moment of my academic pursuit and had provided many insights into Old Testament studies and skills in research and writing that enable me to pursue further studies at the doctoral studies. I am also particularly indebted to my doctoral promoter, Professor Schalk Willem van Heerden, who has been very encouraging to me in the process of writing this book. Especially the insightful comments on the thesis and the provision of the valuable resources have helped my PhD research to be more fruitful. His academic guidance has inspired me to rethink the way I present the biblical materials in the light of the biblical scholarship, of which at times I found myself lost while writing a long essay. I have benefited much at the scholarly level, and thus present my learning in this book.
I am thankful for God’s provision of academic facilities such as universities and theological colleges for my research and writing. In particular, I am extremely thankful for the availability and superior resources at Newman Theological College library that which I depended much on, and secondly to the library of the Concordia University of Edmonton. Especially the librarians of these institutions have been extremely helpful in supporting ←xiii | xiv→me to find the relevant resources for my research writing. I pray that God will continue to bless the works that have been entrusted to them.
I am deeply thankful to my wife, Lucinda Wu, for her patience and endurance during the writing of this book. On this note, I want to especially praise God for his graciousness to us, that in these years he has sustained Lucinda’s health through many severe outcomes besides the usual symptoms and problems. On a few occasions, her condition did become challenging. She has had degenerating discs on her spine for thirty years and advancing in age has made it worse. Usual symptoms and problems are backaches, vertigo, fatigue, and many other unforeseen problems. Her immunity has been weakened and thus she has many other health issues such as minor asthmatic respiratory issue, being prone to flu and cold, pollen allergy, and many other unforeseen issues. With this brokenness, she has managed our diet in order to sustain our daily physical nutrition, especially to make special food for her milk/dairy allergic husband. God has been gracious to strengthen me to assume some of the household chores in addition to my two part-time jobs that provide for our livelihood.
I finally thank all friends and family members who have supported us in prayer to the completion of this book. To God be the glory!
The metaphor of the shepherd is a prominent and significant one in the Old Testament.1 This metaphor defines the relationship of Yahweh with the nation of Israel and those who have faith in him. In the Old Testament, this metaphor also defines the relationship between the rulers and the people, which has shifted from an agrarian context, of shepherd and sheep in the literal sense, to a socio-political context, of rulers and people in the political sense (Tidball 1986: 14–17). This change has impacted the role of pastors and leaders in the present-day ecclesiastical setting since they were and are spiritual leaders of the congregation. The study of pastoral theology and leadership has depended on this metaphor to build models for ministry. A careful review of the shepherd metaphor raises the question of whether the uses of the shepherd metaphor in the literature on Christian leadership and pastoral models reflect the uses of the shepherd metaphor in the Christian Bible, both the Old and New Testaments.
In the literature of the Old Testament, Yahweh is depicted as having been shepherd and king since the formation of the nation of Israel. This ideology forms the theological foundation of the New Testament shepherd image.2 Like the kings in the ancient Near East, Yahweh plays, both roles ←1 | 2→as king and shepherd, and the relationship is intertwined. Psalm 23 is the key passage regarding the metaphor of the shepherd in the Old Testament, especially because it refers to Yahweh as a shepherd. This ideology, which forms the theological foundation of the New Testament, also establishes the image that Jesus is the good shepherd.
In the Old Testament, Yahweh is perceived as a shepherd who led his flock, the Israelites, through the wilderness (Ps 77:21); however, this is not the only image. The shepherding responsibility was passed on from Yahweh to his earthly shepherds such as David (2 Sm 5:2; 7:7–8). Similar to the kings in the ancient Near East, David was a king as well as a shepherd. In the Old Testament, as noted, the metaphor of the shepherd was applied to both Yahweh and the earthly kings. However, Yahweh is the overseeing shepherd who ensures that a reliable shepherd is provided because an unreliable one will destroy and scatter his flock (Jer 23:1) and will neglect to feed them (Ezk 34:7–10).
The metaphor of the shepherd highlights the fact that Yahweh is both the God and the shepherd (leader) of the people of Israel. Such a relationship between Yahweh and the people of Israel was established at the beginning of the history of Israel. For example, Psalm 80 begins with ‘O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock’, which shows that Yahweh was perceived as a shepherd to the patriarch, at the time when Israel was not yet a nation. The entire psalm describes the shepherding activities of Yahweh and the shepherd metaphor in the history of Israel in an allegorical form. This metaphor describes Yahweh as the shepherd who leads the Israelites out of Egypt (v. 8), and this relationship continues in ←2 | 3→the rest of their history (vv. 9–18) (Prinsloo 2003: 403). The models of pastoral and leadership roles have changed tremendously, and this leads one to question if these models still fit the understanding of the said metaphor.
The shepherd metaphor is also a common figure in the literature of the ancient Near East. The image primarily includes leading, feeding, and protecting; the king is likewise perceived as a shepherd or leader. A king is a national figure but is also accorded statutory power by God. The myth Etana describes vividly the full apparel of a king:
In this myth, Etana was perceived as a shepherd and one who rose to heaven (ANET 1969: 114). According to Speiser, the cylinder seals in the era of the Old Akkadian dynasty indicate a shepherd rising to heaven on eagle’s wings (ANET 1969: 114). The name ‘Etana’ is associated with certain deities and befits the kings of the Old Akkadian and subsequent dynasties; he is the main character of a significant legend. This legend is supported by sources from the library of Ashurbanipal that have been revised throughout three historical eras: the Old Babylonian, the Middle Assyrian, and the Neo-Assyrian. The last revision has reconstructed the legendary story to portray Etana as one who undertakes the providential care of the human race, in a manner similar to a king (ANET 1969: 114).
To reiterate, the shepherd metaphor depicted in the Old Testament and the ancient Near Eastern literature is found in leadership and kingship roles. This preliminary reading hopes to contribute to the evaluation of the pastoral and leadership models that heavily rely on the shepherd metaphor.
1 Problem statement and research questions
The shepherd metaphor is commonly used in pastoral studies to discuss the role of pastoral leadership. The term ‘pastor’ in English comes from ←3 | 4→the Latin translation [pāstor].3 But the concept of the word ‘pastor’ is derived from the Greek word ποιμην and the Hebrew word רעה; both terms are usually translated as ‘shepherd’ (Stewart 1996: 1,092). Pastoral theologians have always used this shepherd image to formalize the role and function of a pastor. However, it belonged to the modern image of a pastoral psychologist. This may be influenced by the perception of the shepherd image in the writings of the New Testament. This preliminary reading of the literature on the pastoral role in the New Testament suggests that such an image is different from the general understanding of the said metaphor in the Old Testament.
Often the metaphor of the shepherd is presented as a benevolent caregiver toward needy recipients, which is a typical image of the pastoral leadership role in the ecclesiastical setting. The pastoral role is perceived as carried out by one who cares for the needy among the congregation; thus, pastoral psychology rather than theology becomes the directive of pastoral care. This effect is so extensive that the pastoral role often depends on the principles of psychology and counselling. Pastoral theology operating under this influence relies much on the implementation of social science and management theories, which enrich the skill of a pastor but neglect the biblical foundation established inter alia through the metaphor of the shepherd. Fisher states that ‘the world is experiencing rapid and perpetual change’, and ‘the practice of ministry has become the theology’ (Fisher 1996: 7, 9). For example, the church education ministry of the churches in Canada and Singapore has been reduced to provide resources for educational programmes. The reception of these programmes contributes to the success of the church ministry that directs the way pastors lead the congregation, rather than the theology of pastoral ministry. Therefore, pastoral leadership models have evolved into a pragmatic rather than a biblical model.
The main factor contributing to the therapist image evident in the pastoral and leadership models is the understanding of the shepherd metaphor in the New Testament. Jesus the good shepherd, as intimated, is the prominent figure on which many pastoral and leadership models are based. This shepherd metaphor depicts Jesus as the healer and the caregiver, and ←4 | 5→frequently pictures him as the messianic leader (Kostenberger 2002: 96). Although many models are claimed to have been derived from the metaphor of the shepherd in the New Testament, they are removed from the said metaphor in their formulation by replacing it with the therapeutic approach to the needs of the congregation. This departure is brought about by social changes that an individual’s emotional needs are critical to one’s well-being, and that the traditional model of the shepherd is weakened by the demands of the modern lifestyle.
A different issue arises when the shepherd metaphor of the New Testament is placed alongside the said metaphor of the Old Testament. Some scholars have claimed that the New Testament shepherd metaphor found its roots in the Old Testament (Kostenberger 2002). This image also includes messianic leadership (Kostenberger 2002: 94–6). There are twenty-one passages from the New Testament that contain the shepherd image. Thirteen passages indicate that the shepherd guards the flock against dangers or harms, guides them to ‘water of life’, and saves them from being lost. All passages are listed in the footnote. Five passages refer to the shepherd as one who ‘tends’ or ‘shepherds’ in the general understanding of the role. One passage cautions against a ‘false’ shepherd. Another passage is an Old Testament quotation, while only one passage presents the shepherd as a judge, ‘separating the sheep from goats’ (Kostenberger 2002: 94–5).4
One can argue that if Jesus is portrayed as a shepherd in a passage, then he is functioning as a shepherd. Perhaps, in Matthew 25:32–3, Jesus functions as both shepherd and judge. This passage is filled with eschatological meaning that Jesus himself is the judge. Its meaning is ambiguous. Kostenberger (2002) has imposed that Jesus is both shepherd and judge by treating the mention of Jesus as shepherd separating the sheep and goats as ←5 | 6→the shepherding responsibility of Jesus. The context of the parable pertains to the anticipation of the coming messiah and that the maidens should be ready to give an account of their labours. And that alludes to the separation of those who belong to the kingdom and those who are not by the judgment of the messiah. Here the messiah depicts as a judge, and the shepherd image is an analogy to describe his judgment of the faithful and faithless, rather than his shepherding responsibility as imposed by Kostenberger (2002). Thus, it does not constitute a shepherd image. However, the meaning of the shepherd metaphor in the Old Testament also includes pronouncing judgment on the unfaithful shepherd by Yahweh in Ezekiel 34 and executing judgment on the unfaithful shepherds and sheep by the under-shepherds in Zechariah 11:4–17 (Gan 2007: 70–6, 2010: 47–79; cf. Kostenberger 2002: 76–80).
The following research questions ensue from the above discussion: (1) Which dimensions of the shepherd metaphor have been highlighted in the literature on pastoral and leadership models? (2) Do these dimensions correspond with the use of the shepherd motif in Old Testament texts? (3) Does the literature on pastoral and leadership models base its ideas primarily on New Testament texts? (4) Does the use of this metaphor in the Old Testament differ from its use in the New Testament? (5) Can literature on pastoral and leadership models be enriched by the analyses of the Old Testament texts in which this metaphor is used?
2 Aims and objectives
The aim of this research is to examine the pastoral and leadership models and their use of the shepherd metaphor in the light of the significance of the said metaphor in the Old Testament. It utilizes rhetorical criticism and consults metaphorical theory to examine the shepherd metaphor used in the models of pastoral and leadership roles and their relationship with the shepherd metaphor in the New Testament. This metaphor which forms the foundation in the above two fields is rooted in the Old Testament, and its extensive meaning should be utilized in this study. The ←6 | 7→objective is threefold: (1) exploring the use of the shepherd metaphor in the Old Testament; (2) examining the use of the said metaphor in pastoral and leadership models, which could include pointing out that some of these models rely heavily on their understanding of New Testament uses of this metaphor; and (3) comparing the Old Testament and pastoral/leadership models’ uses of the shepherd metaphor and drawing conclusions based on this comparison.
- XVIII, 358
- ISBN (PDF)
- ISBN (ePUB)
- ISBN (Softcover)
- Publication date
- 2022 (July)
- Shepherd Image Metaphor Rhetorical Criticism The Shepherd Metaphor in the Old Testament, and Its Use in Pastoral and Leadership Models Jonathan Y. L. Gan
- Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2022. XVIII, 358 pp.