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1. Introduction to Deuteronomistic History


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Title: 1. Introduction to Deuteronomistic History

1. Introduction to Deuteronomistic History
  • BOT694 Exegesis of 1 2 Samuel

1. Terminology
  • "The traditional terminology of the Hebrew Bible
    included the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and
    Kings within the second part of the Hebrew canon,
    which was designated 'Prophets'. That this
    division was at least as early as the Hellenistic
    period is testified to by the Prologue to the
    book of Sirach, and by Josephus, Philo, and the
    NT. The further traditional canonical division
    within the Prophets of the 'former' and 'later'
    distinguished the first four historical books
    from the prophetic books of Isaiah, Jeremiah,
    Ezekiel, and the Twelve. This terminology first
    emerged in the Middle Ages (cf. Sotah 48b).

1. Terminology
  • However, the two references in Zechariah to the
    'former prophets' (1.4 7.7) offer a certain
    biblical warrant for the later terminology."
    Childs, B. The Introduction to the Old Testament
    as Scripture, 230
  • Zech. 1.4 "Do not be like your ancestors, to whom
    the former prophets proclaimed, "Thus says the
    LORD of hosts, Return from your evil ways and
    from your evil deeds." But they did not hear or
    heed me, says the LORD."
  • Zech 7.7 "Were not these the words that the LORD
    proclaimed by the former prophets, when Jerusalem
    was inhabited and in prosperity, along with the
    towns around it, and when the Negeb and the
    Shephelah were inhabited?"

1. Terminology
  • The deuteronomic history is a shorthand
    designation of fairly recent vintage for the
    books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, with
    Deuteronomy often recognized as the introduction
    to them. It has been common to refer to these
    books as The Former Prophets because of the
    important role the prophetic word plays in the
    narrative. Perhaps most commonly, however, the
    general label of Historical Books has been
    given to them, because of their obvious concern
    to relate the history of Israel from the entrance
    into the land to the time of the Babylonian
    exile." Fretheim, T. Deuteronomic History,

1. Terminology
  • Antony F. Campbell's hypothesis of a prophetic
    source and redaction in his Of Prophets and
    Kings A Late Ninth-Century Document (1 Samuel
    1-2 Kings 10), Washington, D.C. The Catholic
    Biblical Association of America, 1986. "The
    Fundamental purpose of this study is threefold
    firstly, to present the evidence for an early
    document, extending from 1 Sam 11 to 2 Kgs 1028
    and deriving from northern prophetic circles
    toward the end of the ninth century B.C.
    secondly, to identify the text of this document,
    without appeal to emendation or dislocation of
    the present OT text and thirdly, to consider its
    significance and some of the consequences which
    derive from it." Campbell, A Late Ninth-Century
    Document, p. 1

2. History Continues?
  • "The Pentateuch, in its final form, was edited as
    a historical document. That is, the books of the
    Torah are structured so as to tell the story,
    first, of mankind and, second, of the 'chosen'
    line down to the time just prior to the entry
    into Canaan. This history is bound together
    through chronological and genealogical
    statements. In addition to the Pentateuch, there
    are other historical works in the OT. Joshua-2
    Kgs, the Former Prophets, picks up the story with
    the people in Trans-Jordan and continues the
    account down to the thirty-seventh year of the
    exile of king Jehoiachin (561 BCE). In addition
    to the Former Prophets, two other historical
    works are found in the OT. 1-2 Chron. begins

2. History Continues?
  • with Adam and then presents the story of the
    chosen people down to the first year of the
    Persian king Cyrus (538 BCE). Ezra-Nehemiah
    begins its history with Cyrus and narrates the
    fate of the Jewish community through the
    reforming activity of Ezra and Nehemiah." Hayes,
    J. An Introduction to Old Testament Study,
  • Continuous History Genesis to 2 Kings
  • "First of all, the book of Joshua resumes the
    story at the point where Deuteronomy ends. Deut
    34 tells of the death of Moses and his burial in
    an unknown grave in Moab. The book of Joshua
    begins with the account of Joshua's assumption of
    leadership after the death of Moses." Hayes, An
    Introduction to OT Study, 202

2. History Continues?
  • Continuous History Genesis to 2 Kings
  • "Secondly, much of the Pentateuch assumes what in
    the story only becomes reality in Joshua - the
    possession of the land." Hayes, An Introduction
    to OT Study, 203
  • "Thirdly, parallel and often contradictory
    traditions in the Former Prophets have been
    viewed as evidence of parallel sources or
    documents." Hayes, An Introduction to OT Study,

3. Canonical Shape
  • Close but distinct relations to the Pentateuch
  • "...in the final form of the Hebrew Bible the
    first five books have been clearly separated from
    the subsequent history as a Pentateuch.... the
    final shape of the Hebrew canon is unambiguous in
    maintaining the literary integrity of the
    Pentateuch." Childs, Introduction to the OT as
    Scripture, 232-3
  • "The book of Joshua does not function simply as
    an extension of the book of Deuteronomy. Rather,
    Joshua cites Deuteronomy in its canonical form as
    the 'Book of the Torah' (se4per hattora4h).

3. Canonical Shape
  • Close but distinct relations to the Pentateuch
  • within the canon Deuteronomy is never assigned
    an integrity all its own apart from the laws of
    Exodus. This means that Joshua's references to
    Deuteronomy includes the entire law which is now
    encompassed within the Pentateuch." Childs,
    Introduction to the OT as Scripture, 233
  • The Relation of Joshua to the other Historical
  • "The history of the nation from its conquest of
    the land to its destruction by the Babylonians is
    not arranged according to a

3. Canonical Shape
  • The Relation of Joshua to the other Historical
  • clear literary pattern of prophecy and
    fulfillment." Childs, 234
  • "...theological interpretation of Israel's
    history in terms of the working out of the
    stipulations of the Book of the Law." Childs,
  • "...at crucial points in the history long
    'Deuteronomic' speeches are inserted, which
    interpret theologically the course of Israel's in
    the light of the Book of the Law (Deut 27f Josh
    1.2ff 22.1ff Judg 2.6ff 1 Sam 12 1 Kgs 8 2
    Kgs 17 24)." Childs, 234

4. History Historiography
  • 4.1 Definition of History
  • "History is the intellectual form in which a
    civilization renders account to itself of its
    past." Huizinga's definition in Van Seters,
    John, In Search of History, 1
  • "In its most comprehensive sense history may be
    said to furnish a description of phenomena in
    process of continuous change of all that has
    happened in human life and in natural life."
    Harrison, R.K., Introduction to the Old
    Testament, 291

4. History Historiography
  • 4.2 Types of Historical Writing
  • "NARRATIVE. The simplest form of narrative
    history consists of annals but even annals, by
    what they record and by what they leave
    unrecorded, afford some key to outlook of the
    annalist.... It is objective, it never moralizes,
    and yet it leaves the impression that the writer
    was fully aware that David's trouble with his
    sons was due to his own lack of self-discipline,
    though this is never said." North, C.R.,
    "History," IDB, 2, 608

4. History Historiography
  • 4.2 Types of Historical Writing
  • "DIDACTIC. Most OT historical writing is
    didactic, history with a purpose.' This applies
    particularly to the historical retrospects in
    Deuteronomy and to the books of Judges and
    Kings.... The Deuteronomic historians were more
    concerned to point the moral for their
    contemporaries than to give an unbiased account
    of the past." North, C.R., "History," IDB, 2,

4. History Historiography
  • 4.2 Types of Historical Writing
  • "SCIENTIFIC. A modern academic historian must
    write as well as he can, but he is more concerned
    to show how events are related to the
    economic-social and spiritual movements from
    which they derive, than to be entertaining or
    instructive. The last thing he will do is
    moralize, though he may, if his work is on a big
    canvas, attempt a philosophy of history.' Of
    this genetic' type of history there is nothing
    in the OT...." North, C.R., "History," IDB, 2,

4. History Historiography
  • 4.3 Ways to identify history writing in ancient
  • 4.3.1 Van Seters, John, In Search of History (pp.
  • History writing is a specific form of tradition
    in its own right. Any explanation of the genre as
    merely the accidental accumulation of traditional
    material is inadequate.
  • History writing is not primarily the accurate
    reporting of past events. It also considers the
    reason for recalling the past and the
    significance given to past events.

4. History Historiography
  • History writing examines the causes of present
    conditions and circumstances. In antiquity these
    causes are primarily moral-who is responsible for
    a state of affairs? (It goes without saying, of
    course that modern scientific theories about
    causation or laws of evidence cannot be applied
    to the ancient writer.)
  • History writing is national or corporate in
    character. Therefore, merely reporting the deeds
    of the king may be only biographical unless these
    are viewed as part of the national history.

4. History Historiography
  • History writing is part of the literary tradition
    and plays a significant role in the corporate
    tradition of the people.
  • 4.3.2 DeVries, Simon J., Word Biblical
    Commentary 1 Kings (xxxiii)
  • It must derive its information from authenticated
    sources, treating this information with due
    respect and discretion
  • It must trace an organic line of development from
    beginning to end
  • It must show the interaction of cause and effect
    in a realistic way and

4. History Historiography
  • It must offer a believable and essentially
    reliable portrait of the persons involved.
  • 4.3.3 Historical and Chronological Genres
  • King Lists
  • Royal Inscriptions
  • Chronicles
  • Dtr History "The genius of the Dtr history is
    that it attempted such a wide-ranging integration
    of forms in order to set forth within one work
    the whole foundation of Israelite society." van
    Seters, In Search of History, 357

5. One Comprehensive History
  • 5.1 The Unity of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges,
    Samuel and Kings
  • "The purpose of this work is basically hortatory
    (exhortation), and in that sense it is continuous
    with the book of Deuteronomy, which is often
    described as preached law.'" Fretheim,
    Deuteronomic History, 18
  • 5.2 The Word of God and its Fulfillment
  • "...first the word of God is reported by a
    prophet, then a description of events follows
    with the explicit statement that these events
    happened according to the word of the God' (or a
    statement similar in meaning) - appears

5. One Comprehensive History
  • to be operating in the relationship between the
    two largest segments of the work. The first
    segmentation of the Deuteronomic History results
    in separating the Book of Deuteronomy from Joshua
    - 2 Kgs. We thereby see that Deuteronomy, in that
    it is almost totally a number of Mosaic speeches,
    functions as an expression of the prophetic word
    of God, and that Joshua-2 Kgs mainly recounts
    events that constitute its exactly observed
    fulfillment." Polzin, R. Moses and the
    Deuteronomist, 19

5. One Comprehensive History
  • "The Book of Deuteronomy contains thirty-four
    chapters. Almost all of the book consists of
    reported speech, mostly in direct discourse and
    mostly of Moses, whereas only about fifty-six
    verses are reporting speech, the Deuteronomic
    narrator's, which forms the context for Moses
    direct utterances. On the other hand, Joshua - 2
    Kgs is predominantly reporting speech, that of
    the narrator, with a significantly smaller amount
    of reported speech scattered throughout.
    (However, here the disproportion between
    reporting and reported speech is not as great as
    in Deuteronomy.) In Deuteronomy, reported speech
    of its hero is emphasized in Joshua -

5. One Comprehensive History
  • 2 Kgs, the reporting speech of its narrator is
    dominant. It is as though the Deuteronomist is
    telling us in Deuteronomy, Here is what God has
    prophesied concerning Israel,' but in Joshua - 2
    Kgs, This how God's word has been exactly
    fulfilled in Israel's history from the settlement
    to the destruction of Jerusalem." Polzin, R.
    Moses and the Deuteronomist, 19
  • "...the general point of view of Joshua - 2 Kgs
    taken as a whole how Israel's history is
    dependent upon the word of God that is the Book
    of Deuteronomy." Polzin, R. Moses and the
    Deuteronomist, 20

5. One Comprehensive History
  • 5.3 Deuteronomy as the Repository of Standards
    for Historical Analysis
  • "The most important of these are the graciousness
    of Yahweh's covenant, the evils of idolatry and a
    Non-centralized cult, and the inevitability of
    punishment and reward. The primary covenant is
    the one made by Moses. The Abrahamic, Joshuanic,
    and Davidic covenants are always secondary to it.
    Thus the king is always thought of as subordinate
    to the covenant...." Freedman, D.N. IBDSupp,
  • "If DHEd accepted the promise of the land to

5. One Comprehensive History
  • 5.3 Deuteronomy as the Repository of Standards
    for Historical Analysis
  • the fathers, he regarded it only as a simple
    promise, to be fulfilled once, and therefore
    largely devoid of content after the Conquest. His
    hopes are pinned exclusively to the Josianic
    reforms and the adherence to the Mosaic covenant
    they imply." Freedman, IDBSupp, 227

6. Major Themes
  • 6.1 Judgment Martin Noth
  • "For him, the corpus was designed only to show
    that God's actions leading to the destruction of
    Israel and Judah were justified. Thus, the past
    was used only in order to explain the present,
    and no hope was articulated for the future."
    Fretheim, Deuteronomic History, 19
  • 6.2 Repentance von Rad
  • "He understood the materials not fundamentally to
    be a history of Israel, but to be an account of
    the word of God as it functioned within the
    ongoing life of Israel.

6. Major Themes
  • Thus, Yahweh's word is active in the history of
    Judah, creating that history, and that in a
    double capacity (1) as law, judging and
    destroying (2) as gospel, i.e., in the David
    prophecy, which was constantly being fulfilled -
    saving and forgiving.'" Fretheim, Deuteronomic
    History, 19
  • "Thus, there is a fusion of the Mosaic and
    Davidic traditions, and the result is a
    relatively simple message for the people of God
    Repent, and trust God's promise, which will not
    fail. The instructional and hortatory language
    make sense only if there is hope for the future."
    Fretheim, Deuteronomic History, 19

6. Major Themes
  • 6.3 Repentance Wolff
  • "Wolff emphasized the repentance theme, and
    demonstrated the important role it played in key
    passages (1 Kgs 8.46-53). He would disagree with
    von Rad, however regarding the specific character
    of the hope. Wolff would stress that certain
    passages (1 Kgs 2.3-4 9.5-7) makes the Davidic
    covenant conditional upon obedience, and because
    of the kings' disobedience, this covenant was no
    longer in force. hence, uncertainties reign at
    the end of 2 Kgs (25.27-30), which contains no
    allusion to any Davidic covenant. In the absence
    of any specific hope, Israel could only trust
    that, given God's response to repentant people in
    the past, there would be a

6. Major Themes
  • 6.3 Repentance Wolff
  • comparable response in the future God would
    hear and forgive (1 Kgs 8.34ff)." Fretheim,
    "Deuteronomic History, 19-20
  • Deut 30.1-10 (Note especially vv2, 8, 10 bwv)
  • 6.4 Good Brueggemann
  • Deut 30.1-10 (Note especially v9, bwj)
  • "...alongside the repentance' motif a
    counter-theme which motivates Israel to repent
    and which offers promises and assurances to
    Israel when she repents. This dimension of
    Kerygma is found in the word good'."

6. Major Themes
  • Brueggemann, "The Kerygma of the
    Deuteronomistic Historian," Interpretation, XXII,
    10-1968, 387 \
  • Manifested in
  • Israel as the doer of good Covenant
    Responsibility Deut 5.28 18.17 1 Sam 12.23 1
    Kgs 8.36 2 Kgs 20.3.
  • Israel as the recipient of good Deut 30.15 (good
    life) 30.5,9.
  • Land as good
  • Good in the word Jos 21.45 23.14ff 1 Kgs
  • Davidic house as vehicle for good

6. Major Themes
  • 6.5 No other gods Fretheim
  • "...that the first (and second, in the reformed
    numbering) commandment (i.e., Deut 5.7-10)
    together with a certain understanding of God,
    constitutes the heart of the concern of the
    deuteronomic historian." Fretheim, Deuteronomic
    History, 21
  • "A key question raised by the exile is stated 1
    Kgs 9.8 and Deut 29.24ff. Why has the Lord done
    thus to this land and to this house?'.... The
    focus of the response is on unfaithfulness to
    God, manifested fundamentally in the worship of
    other gods." Fretheim, Deuteronomic History, 21

6. Major Themes
  • 6.5 No other gods Fretheim
  • "The language of forsaking' the covenant is
    oriented, almost exclusively, in terms of the
    first commandment.(Deut 29.25-26 Josh 23.16
    Deut 17.2-3 31.16,20 Judg 2.20 1 Kgs 11.9-11
    2 Kgs 17.15)" Fretheim, Deuteronomic History,

7. The Structure of the Histroy
  • "According to Noth, the deuteronomistic historian
    divided the history of Israel into five major
    periods (1) the history of the Mosaic period,
    (2) the period of the conquest, (3) the age of
    the Judges, (4) Saul, David, and Solomon, (5) the
    era of Israelite and Judean kings." Hayes, An
    Introduction to Old Testament Study, 208
  • "In the first, the editor provides the original
    book of Deuteronomy with an introduction (Deut
    1-3DH 4.1-40PHEd) and various epilogues (27,
    29-34).... Part two of the work, the book of
    Joshua, narrates the conquest of Canaan.... The
    third part of DH (Judges - 1 Sam

7. The Structure of the Histroy
  • 7) describes the difficulties of pre-monarchic
    Israel and traces the origins of the monarchy....
    Part four details the rise of monarchic
    government and its greatest glories (1 Sam 7 - 1
    Kgs 8). The concluding section (1 Kgs 9 - 2 Kgs
    23.25) reviews the progressive decline of the
    divided' monarchy." Freedman, "Deuteronomic
    History, The," IDBSupp, 226
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