The vision in Habakkuk : identifying its content in the light of the framework set forth in Hab. 1
The book of Habakkuk is traditionally divided into five sections: the prophet's two laments, Yahweh's two responses and a concluding psalm. The first three of these sections are found in ch. I and are typically interpreted according to a question-and-answer format. That is, the prophet complains, Yahweh answers, and the prophet complains again. Many scholars suspect that this dialogue continues into the first half of ch. 2, saying it contains Yahweh's second answer, and some scholars go so far as to say the dialogue persists into ch. 3, saying it contains the prophet's final response. Even though the majority of scholars agree that at least the first half of Habakkuk represents a dialogue between the prophet and Yahweh, there is very little consensus regarding the identity of a vision which Yahweh briefly mentions in ch. 2. This vision appears to be a matter of great importance for the prophet, and thus it seems reasonable to presume that properly identifying its content is crucial to the interpretation of the book. Hence, it is surprising that many commentators, rather than acknowledging the inconsistencies in scholarly opinion, give quick treatments of the vision, only offering their versions of the vision's content. Three of the most popular options are Hab. 2: 4 (or 2: 4-5), Hab. 2: 6-20, and Hab. 3: 3- 15. Each of these possibilities makes good sense in the context of the book, but each one also generally follows from the presumption that the record of the vision must fit into the dialogue framework. The following thesis will determine if this is a reasonable presumption to make and, on the basis of that finding, will propose a fourth possibility for identifying the vision. That is, when Yahweh commands the prophet to "Write (the) vision" (Hab. 2: 2), he is referring to the oracle recorded in Hab. 1: 5-11.