Refugees, survivors and a community saved and refashioned through judgement : the remnant in Isaiah, Micah and Zephaniah
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The present study consists of four parts. The first three are a canonical analysis of Isaiah, Micah and Zephaniah, respectively. These chapters attempt to give an answer to why the community was reduced to a remnant and what characterises them. The final chapter attempts to place the theme of the remnant in biblical theology. This study rests on two convictions: (1) The interpreter needs to wrestle with the biblical texts in their canonical form because these have been transmitted as works of literature; (2) A canonical method is especially suited for the study of the prophetic literature because of the thematic structure and figurative language of this literary genre. Through a close reading of these prophets, it is shown, that the remnant theme is used as a bridge or hinge between the themes of judgement and salvation. It provides an explanation and reason for the preservation of a community which has faced judgement. The theme can be used both positively and negatively. The absence of a remnant marks the end of a community. But when it is present there is hope (however small). The theme is often associated with the future promises of restoration which the prophets proclaimed. And as such the remnant will be the future eschatological community, the people of the Messiah.