The Deuteronomic School: History, Social Setting, and Literature (Studies in Biblical Literature 2)

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The Deuteronomist , abbreviated as either Dtr [1] or simply D , may refer either to the source document underlying the core chapters of the Book of Deuteronomy , or to the broader "school" that produced all of Deuteronomy as well as the Deuteronomistic history of Joshua , Judges , Samuel , and Kings and also the book of Jeremiah. The Deuteronomist is one of the sources identified through source criticism as underlying much of the Hebrew Bible.

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Among source-critical scholars, it is generally agreed that Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic history originated independently of the books of Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus and Numbers the first four books of the Torah , sometimes called the "Tetrateuch", whose sources are the Priestly source and the Jahwist , and the history of the books of Chronicles ; most scholars trace all or most of it to the Babylonian exile 6th century BCE , and associate it with editorial reworking of both the Tetrateuch and Jeremiah.

Since the midth century, scholars have imagined the Deuteronomists as country Levites a junior order of priests , or as prophets in the tradition of the northern Kingdom of Israel , or as sages and scribes at the royal court. Deuteronomy was formed by a complex process that reached probably from the 7th century BCE to the early 5th. The law code chapters 12—26 forms the core of the book.

The Deuteronomic School: History, Social Setting, and Literature (Studies in Biblical Literature 2)

The introduction to the code chapters — was added during Josiah's time, thus creating the earliest version of Deuteronomy as a book, [15] and the historical prologue chapters 1— was added still later to turn Deuteronomy into an introduction to the entire Deuteronomistic history Deuteronomy to Kings. The term was coined in by the German biblical scholar Martin Noth to explain the origin and purpose of Joshua , Judges , Samuel and Kings. The late s saw the beginning of a series of studies that modified Noth's original concept. In Frank Moore Cross made an important revision, suggesting that the history was in fact first written in the late 7th century BCE as a contribution to king Josiah 's program of reform the Dtr1 version , and only later revised and updated by Noth's 6th-century author Dtr2.

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Cross's "dual redaction" model is probably the most widely accepted, [22] but a considerable number of European scholars prefer an alternative model put forward by Rudolf Smend and his pupils. For a time, the existence of the Deuteronomistic history enjoyed "canonical" status in biblical studies. Knoppers noted that "in the last five years an increasing number of commentators have expressed grave doubts about fundamental tenets of Noth's classic study. The prose sermons in the Book of Jeremiah are written in a style and outlook closely akin to, yet different from, the Deuteronomistic history.

Originally, redaction referred to editorial processes related to preparing received texts for publication. As applied to the Pentateuch, for example, redaction criticism was once concerned with distinguishing the original documentary sources from editorial revisions that had combined them into their final form. Latterly, redaction has been used to indicate a wide range of revisional activities, in some cases virtually synonymous with authorship.


Redaction criticism remains interested in discerning evidence that the text transmitted is a revision of an earlier document. The works of Person and Van Seters raise significant questions about connections between authorship and redaction. In different ways, both challenge what they consider to be improper projections of modern practices onto ancient book-making.

Person claims that the concept of authorship is actually unhelpful in describing the development of the Deuteronomistic History DtrH. Van Seters denies the necessity of using redaction criticism to discern a history of composition in the law code found in Ex In , the German biblical scholar Martin Noth proposed that a single writer to some extent relying on preexisting sources composed a work of historiography comprising Joshua—2 Kings that was dependent on the theology and rhetoric of Deuteronomy: the DtrH.

He believed the author of the DtrH produced this monumental opus in the exilic period of biblical history. Noth's own scholarship presupposed critical discussions about the composition of the books of Joshua—2 Kings that had taken place since the nineteenth century. At that time, scholars had already noted that the books of the former prophets showed significant use of phraseology and theology that resonated with the book of Deuteronomy.

Since Noth's time, the DtrH hypothesis has been subject to two significant modifications. Following the work of Harvard-based Frank Moore Cross, many scholars believe that a first edition or block was composed in the late preexilic period with a second completed during the exile. The brief sketch above, of course, paints a picture of postwar scholarship with a very broad brush. In fact, intensive work on the DtrH in the last decade has raised searching questions about the validity of either the block model or the strata model.

Deuteronomist - Wikipedia

Some have even gone so far as to question the existence of the DtrH altogether. But, typically, the scholars concerned have used techniques of redaction criticism to obtain their results.

A major point of Person's book is to raise serious questions about the competence of redaction criticism to discern different versions of the [End Page ] DtrH. Person eschews the common distinction between "deuteronomic" and "deuteronomistic" styles in favor of the adjective "deuteronomic.

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