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Introduction to the Old Testament

Divinity/Theology

A. Jeffers 2009
002D135

This guide was prepared for the University of London External System by: A. Jeffers, Lecturer in Biblical Studies, Department of Theology, Heythrop College, University of London. a.jeffers@heythrop.ac.uk Additional contributions by: K. Southwood, MSt, BA, DPhil candidate, Wolfson College, Oxford. This is one of a series of subject guides published by the University. We regret that due to pressure of work the author is unable to enter into any correspondence relating to, or arising from, the guide. If you have any comments on this subject guide, favourable or unfavourable, please use the form at the back of this guide.

The External System Publications Office University of London Stewart House 32 Russell Square London WC1B 5DN United Kingdom Website: www.londonexternal.ac.uk

Published by: University of London Press University of London 2009 Printed by: Central Printing Service, University of London, England

Contents

Contents
Acknowledgements...............................................................................................................1 Chapter 1: Introduction ......................................................................................................3 Aims..................................................................................................................................3 Objectives. .........................................................................................................................3 Why study the Old Testament?.........................................................................................3 The subject guide..............................................................................................................4 How to use the subject guide............................................................................................4 The examination...............................................................................................................5 Reading.............................................................................................................................5 Glossary of abbreviations...............................................................................................10 Chapter 2: Introducing the Hebrew scriptures...............................................................11 Essential reading.............................................................................................................11 Introduction.....................................................................................................................11 Geographical perspectives..............................................................................................11 Historical perspectives....................................................................................................12 Introduction.....................................................................................................................13 The Assyrian threat. ........................................................................................................13 The rise of Babylon.........................................................................................................13 Cyrus and the Persian Empire........................................................................................14 The contribution of archaeology. ....................................................................................15 Diversity of the literary material....................................................................................16 Learning outcomes.........................................................................................................16 Sample examination question.........................................................................................16 Chapter 3: Torah. ................................................................................................................17 Essential reading.............................................................................................................17 Further reading...............................................................................................................17 Introduction.....................................................................................................................17 Definition........................................................................................................................18 How we read Torah.........................................................................................................18 Learning outcomes.........................................................................................................20 Gen. 111: cosmology and identity.................................................................................20 Asking the right questions..............................................................................................21 Gen. 1: a cosmology........................................................................................................22 Gen. 23: in the garden...................................................................................................23 Gen. 45: Creation perverted. .........................................................................................25 Gen. 69: the flood story................................................................................................25 Gen. 1012: back to the real world.................................................................................26 Learning outcomes.........................................................................................................27 Ex. 115: a chosen people...............................................................................................27 Ex. 17: God remembers.................................................................................................29 Ex. 711: the plagues. ......................................................................................................31 Ex. 12: the Passover........................................................................................................32 Ex. 1315: creation of a chosen people...........................................................................33 Learning outcomes.........................................................................................................34 Deuteronomy: a charter for Gods people. ......................................................................34 The laws of Deuteronomy: a meaningful organisation..................................................37

D135 Introduction to the Old Testament

Deut. 1216:17: Man face to God, the divine sphere......................................................38 Deut. 16:1818:22: political and judicial power; a constitution for Israel......................39 Deut. 1925: mankind in the life of the community; the human sphere. .......................39 Deut. 26: the key.............................................................................................................40 Deut. 5:621: the decalogue............................................................................................41 Learning outcomes.........................................................................................................42 Sample examination questions.......................................................................................42 Chapter 4: The deuteronomistic history and 1 and 2 Kings..........................................43 Essential reading.............................................................................................................43 Further reading...............................................................................................................43 Introduction.................................................................................................................... 44 Deuteronomistic history: the theory.............................................................................. 44 Martin Noths thesis........................................................................................................45 The ideology of the deuteronomistic work.....................................................................46 Structural organisation of the whole deuteronomistic history.......................................46 Assessment of Noths thesis............................................................................................47 Introduction to 1 and 2 Kings.........................................................................................47 Learning outcomes.........................................................................................................49 Sample examination questions.......................................................................................49 Chapter 5: Prophets in pre-exilic times...........................................................................51 Essential reading.............................................................................................................51 Further reading...............................................................................................................51 Introduction: eighth-century prophecy. ..........................................................................52 Amos: Let justice roll down like water........................................................................53 Amos 1:32:16: oracles against the foreign nations. .......................................................55 Learning outcomes.........................................................................................................56 Sample examination questions.......................................................................................56 Hosea: Come let us return to the Lord.........................................................................56 Hosea 13: marriage as symbol......................................................................................58 Hosea 414: attack upon the cult....................................................................................59 Hoseas message..............................................................................................................60 Learning outcomes.........................................................................................................61 Sample examination questions.......................................................................................61 Chapter 6: Prophets in exile..............................................................................................63 Essential reading.............................................................................................................63 Further reading...............................................................................................................63 Introduction.................................................................................................................... 64 Ezekiel: A new heart I will give you. ........................................................................65 Deutero-Isaiah (Isa. 4055): Behold, new things I now declare!................................70 Learning outcomes ........................................................................................................75 Sample examination question.........................................................................................75 Chapter 7: The return: Haggai and Zechariah...............................................................77 Essential reading.............................................................................................................77 Further reading...............................................................................................................77 Introduction: the historical background.........................................................................78 Haggai: Temple propaganda (1)......................................................................................79 Zechariah 18: Temple propaganda (2)..........................................................................82 Learning outcomes.........................................................................................................85 Sample examination questions.......................................................................................85 Appendix 1: Sample examination paper..........................................................................87 Appendix 2: Bibliography..................................................................................................89

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Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements
Chapter 2 and part of Chapter 4 have been taken from J. Mulrooneys Introduction to Old Testament Study (1999), slightly revised, with kind permission of the author. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (NRSV), copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the churches of Christ in the USA, and are used by permission. All rights reserved.

D135 Introduction to the Old Testament

Notes

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 1

Introduction
Aims
You should become familiar with, and be able to discuss and analyse, selected texts of the following:

the Pentateuch (Gen. 111; Exodus 115; Deuteronomy) the so-called deuteronomistic history (I and 2 Kings) the so-called writing prophets (Amos, Hosea, Ezekiel, Deutero-Isaiah, Haggai and
Zechariah 18).

Objectives

After studying this subject, you should be able to:

discuss the selected texts from geographical, historical and literary perspectives describe the texts diverse genres competently handle the main issues arising out of the selected texts.
Note: the texts are not set for strictly exegetical purposes but serve as a basis for introducing the main elements of the Old Testament (OT).

Why study the Old Testament?

What is the place of the Old Testament in the study of Christian theology? You may feel that this is obvious and, depending on your religious affiliations, your answer may be directed in a particular fashion. You may be reflecting on these texts as, in some sense, the word of God. Or you may simply accept them as part of the Bible that the Christian churches have accepted as their own particular foundational book. Or you may want to look at the OT as an ancient work of literature, its stories worthy of examination in their own right. You may like to reflect on the appropriateness of the term Old Testament in our subject title. Does it allow for the study of the texts in their own right? Or do they fall under the shadow of the New Testament (NT), it being understood as the key to reading and interpreting the Old? Are we using Old in the sense of first or prior? Or is there a suspicion of obsolete, finished? Scholars in an academic context tend to use the term Hebrew Bible as being more neutral. Note that when discussing dates in this guide, bce (Before the common era) will be used as the more neutral designation. This avoids the Christian connotations implied in the designations bc and ad (Before Christ and Anno Domini) which are inappropriate in an academic context.

The Old Testament as part of an academic degree programme However you feel about the above reflections, you are embarking on an academic degree programme. In such a context, the Bible is studied in a similar way to other texts from the ancient world. Scholars discuss when the texts were written and what their original context consisted of. They are interested, too, in such questions as the social setting of the texts authors and their audience, and they will examine the reasons why a particular text has been written. They do all this so they can be clearer about its possible meanings. The Bible is not exempt from such questions, as they will contribute to our understanding of the texts.
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D135 Introduction to the Old Testament

Most importantly, scholars will be concerned with the historicity of a text. This means that they will take seriously the fact that it was the product of a particular people, setting and time. The more we learn about them, the more informed will be our judgements and the more competent readers we will become.

The subject guide

You will be required to study the literature of the Hebrew Bible in context, and the subject guide offers material that will help you familiarise yourself with that context. Think about your own context. It will consist of a variety of elements:

the nature of the physical environment that you inhabit, for example its physical
geography, its ecology (the geographical perspectives) study)

the society with which you identify and which has formed you (the sociological the history and the traditions that influence how you live and how you behave (the
historical perspectives). Likewise, in respect of ancient Israel, all of these elements will form part of our study of the OT. Note that I have used the word perspectives (e.g. historical and geographical perspectives): each of the elements mentioned could constitute a detailed scholarly study on its own. Do not be dismayed by the vistas of hard work that seem to be opening up a comprehensive and detailed knowledge of history and geography is not essential at this stage. You are required, however, to be sufficiently familiar, in a general fashion, with the geography and history of Israel so that you can follow and read critically the discussions of the material: we will be looking at these geographical and historical perspectives in Chapter 2. Prescribed texts The core of the subject guide will look at some specific texts taken from a wide variety of material, which I have divided into the following chapters: 1. In Chapter 3 you will study Gen. 111; Exodus 115; and Deuteronomy. 2. Chapter 4 will look at the questions of history writing in ancient Israel, focusing on 1 and 2 Kings (more specifically, 2 Kings 17; 2425). The remainder of the chapters will look at the writing prophets, so-called because books have been transmitted in their individual names: 3. Chapter 5 deals with eighth-century prophets. You must choose to focus on either Amos or Hosea. 4. Chapter 6 focuses on prophets living during the exile of the Israelites in Babylon. Again, you must choose to focus on either Ezekiel or Deutero-Isaiah. 5. In Chapter 7 we will look at prophetic responses of either Haggai or Zechariah after the return of the people to their land.

How to use the subject guide

Each chapter begins with a complete reading list for that chapter, which is divided into Essential and Further reading. The Essential reading sets out what you need to read as a minimum in order to cover the syllabus. The Further reading list includes a number of books and articles that will enhance your knowledge and understanding of the subject. We strongly recommend that you read at least some of the items in the Further reading lists.

Chapter 1: Introduction

In each chapter you will come across short exercises called Activities: these allow you to test your progress and to reflect on what you have just read. You will make most progress if you attempt each of these Activities as you come across them in the text. You should refer back to the reading list, and either write down your answers or discuss them with your fellow students. You will also find lists of Learning outcomes, which will come either at the end of an important section within a chapter or at the end of the chapter itself. These Learning outcomes tell you what you should have learned from that chapter and the relevant reading. You should pay close attention to the Learning outcomes and use them to check that you have fully understood the topics covered. There are Sample examination questions at the end of all the chapters. These are usually taken from previous examinations in this subject. You should try planning and writing answers to these questions as part of your study and revision programme. We recommend that you spend around 300 hours in total in studying this subject. You can choose to organise this time in any way that suits you depending on, for example, whether you work full-time or how many other subjects you are studying at the same time.

The examination

Important: the information and advice given in the following section are based on the examination structure used at the time this guide was written. However, the University can alter the format, style or requirements of an examination paper without notice. Because of this, we strongly advise you to check the instructions on the paper you actually sit. The course will be assessed by a three-hour written examination, during which you will be required to write four essays from a choice of eight to ten questions.

Examination technique Obviously the usual examination tips apply. Read through the topics and select those about which you feel most confident about. Spend a few minutes reflecting on each question before you begin writing. Note that you are not being asked to write down everything you know about a particular topic. Each question has been framed to focus on some particular area. Decide which aspect of the topic you think the question is addressing, and list the elements that would be required to develop a good argument. In preparing for the examination, do not prepare answers to particular questions, although practice in writing answers to questions from past papers is always a useful exercise. Rather, prepare topics or area of study (e.g. the flood in Gen. 69; or the celebration of Passover in Ex. 12); then, in the examination situation, you will be able to construct an argument using whatever material is relevant to the question asked.

Reading

This reading list of basic introductions will provide you with the main tools for tackling the overall syllabus. However, there are more specific suggestions for reading listed in each chapter of the subject guide.
Collins, J.J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. (With CD-Rom.) (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2004) [ISBN 0800629914]. Harrison, R.K Introduction to the Old Testament, including a complete review of Old Testament studies and a special supplement on the Apocrypha. (Peabody, MA.: WB Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004) [ISBN 1565633997]. Rendtorff, R. The canonical Hebrew Bible: a theology of the Old Testament. (Leiden: Deo Publishing, 2005) [ISBN 15662101]. Rogerson, J.W. and J.M. Lieu The Oxford handbook of biblical studies. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006) [ISBN 0199237778].

D135 Introduction to the Old Testament

Other accessible introductions include:


Dell, K.J. Opening the Old Testament. (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2008) [ISBN 9781405125017]. Coggins, R.J. Introducing the Old Testament. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990) Oxford Bible Series [ISBN 0192132547]. (Coggins provides a useful guide to the main methodological issues concerned with Old Testament scholarship.) Coogan, M.D. The Old Testament: a historical and literary introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006) [ISBN 0195139119]. Dick, M.B. Reading the Old Testament: an interactive introduction. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2008) [ISBN 9781565639539] (This also has quite a helpful CD-Rom). Dillard, R.B. and T. Longman III An Introduction to the Old Testament. (Leicester: Apollos, 1995) [ISBN 0851106536]. (This is strongly conservative.) Soggin, J.A. Introduction to the Old Testament. (London: SCM Press, 1989) third edition [ISBN 033400702X]. (The earlier editions of Soggins work are still of value, but one the bibliographies of the earlier editions are now somewhat outdated. Soggin does not deal systematically with Genesis 111 and Exodus 115.) Soggin, J.A. An introduction to the History of Israel and Judah. (London: SCM Press, 1993) [ISBN 0334025346]. (Outlines main historical developments of the period c.750c.520 BCE. Beware of the many histories of Israel, a trend initiated by John Brights classic, but conservative History of Israel first published in 1946.)

Collections of ancient texts:


Beckman, G. and H.A. Hoffner, Jr. Hittite diplomatic texts. (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1999) [ISBN 0788501542]. Charlesworth, J. M. The Old Testament pseudepigrapha. (London: Dart, Longman & Todd, 1983) [ISBN 0385096305 (volume 1); 0385188137 (volume 2)]. Clifford, R, J. Creation accounts in the Ancient Near East and in the Bible. (Washington DC: Catholic Biblical Association, 1994) [ISBN 0915170256]. Dalley, S. Myths from Mesopotamia. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989) [ISBN 0192817892]. George, A. (Editor) The Epic of Gilgamesh. (New York: Penguin, 2003) [ISBN 0140449191]. Hallo, W.W. and K.L. Younger The context of scripture. (Leiden: Brill, 2000) [ISBN 9789004135677 (volume 1); 9789004135685 (volume 2); 9789004135693 (volume 3) (This replaced Pritchards Ancient Near Eastern texts (and Pictures) 1950 and offers more detailed notes.) Roth, M.T., H.A. Hoffner Jr. and P. Michalowski Law collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor. (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995) [ISBN 0788501267].

Dictionaries (many are multi-volume works and therefore have numerous authors and editors):
Arnold, B.T. et al. Dictionary of the Old Testament. (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 2005) [ISBN 1844740943]. Freedman, D.N. et al. The Anchor Bible dictionary. (New York, Doubleday, 1992.) [ISBN 0385193513 (volume 1); 0385193602 (volume 2); 0385193610 (volume 3); 0385193629 (volume 4); 0385193637 (volume 5); 038526190X (volume 6)]. Sakenfeld, K.D. et al. The new interpreters dictionary of the Bible. (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2006) [ISBN 9780687054275 (volume 1); 9780687333554 (volume 2); 9780687333653 (volume 3); 9780687333752 (volume 4)].

Chapter 1: Introduction

Commentaries I suggest you purchase one of the following (the books are available to order online, for example through Amazon or by going directly to the publishers websites, but most good bookshops such as Waterstones, Blackwells, or Borders will probably stock them):
Barton, J. and J. Muddiman (eds) The Oxford Bible commentary. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001) [ISBN 0198755007]. (Although this massive commentary is expensive, it is an excellent well-referenced starting point. The newer paperback version, published in 2007 is slightly cheaper.) Dunn, J.G. and Rogerson, J. Eerdmans commentary on the Bible. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003) [ISBN 0802837115].

Specific commentaries (for prescribed texts) Below are a range of some suggested commentaries. You may wish to consult such commentaries in the process of essay writing. The New Anchor Bible Series, New International Critical Commentary and New Word Biblical Commentaries are excellent starting points since they provide detailed notes on language issues. The JSOT series of commentaries are often worthy of attention, although some are now rather dated. The recent Hermeneia Series may be a better option (if you can find it). Genesis 111
Arnold, B.T. Genesis. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009) [ISBN 052100067X]. Hamilton, V.P. The book of Genesis. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991) [ISBN 0802823092] Chapters 117. Rogerson, J.W. Genesis 111. (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1991) [ISBN 1850752745]. Speiser, E.A. Genesis. (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2008) [ISBN 0300140258]. Wenham, G.J. Genesis 115. (Milton Keynes: Word, 1987) [ISBN 0850094488]. Westermann, C. Genesis 111: a commentary. (London: SPCK, 1984) [ISBN 0281040338].

Exodus
Durham, J.I. Exodus. (Waco: Word Books Publisher, 1987) [ISBN 0849902029]. Johnstone, W. Exodus. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1991) [ISBN 1850752397]. Meyers, C. Exodus. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005) [ISBN 0521002915]. Propp, W.H.C. Exodus 118. (New York: Doubleday, 1999) [ISBN 0385148046 (volume 1) 0385246935 (volume 2)].

Deuteronomy
Christensen, D.L. Deuteronomy 121:9. (Dallas: Word Books Publisher, 1991) [ISBN 0849902053]. Christensen, D.L. Deuteronomy 21:1034:12. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publ., 2002) [ISBN 0849910323]. Clements, R.E. Deuteronomy. (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1989) [ISBN 1850752141]. McConville, J.G. Deuteronomy. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002) [ISBN 0851117791]. Tigay, J.H. Deuteronomy . (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1996) [ISBN 0827603304]. Weinfeld, M. Deuteronomy 111. (New York: Doubleday, 1991) [ISBN 0385175930]. Wright, C.J.H. Deuteronomy. (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996) [ISBN 0853647259].

D135 Introduction to the Old Testament

1 and 2 Kings
Cogan, M. I Kings. (New York: Doubleday, 2001) [ISBN 0385029926]. Cogan, M. II Kings. (New York: Doubleday, 1988) [ISBN 038502388X]. DeVries, S.J. 1 Kings. (Waco: Word Books Publisher, 1985) [ISBN 0849902118]. Hobbs, T. R, 2 Kings. (Waco: Word Books Publisher, 1985) [ISBN 0849902126]. Provan, I.W. 1 and 2 Kings. (Carlisle: Paternoster Press, 1999) [ISBN 0849902126]. Provan, I.W. 1 and 2 Kings. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997) [ISBN 1850758026].

Isaiah
Blenkinsopp. J, Isaiah 5666. (New York: Doubleday, 2003) [ISBN 0385501749]. Blenkinsopp, J. Isaiah 4055. (New York: Doubleday, 2002) [ISBN 0385497172]. Blenkinsopp, J. Isaiah 139. (New York: Doubleday, 2000) [ISBN 0385497164]. Watts, J.D.W. Isaiah 3466. (Waco: Word Books Publisher, 1987) [ISBN 084990224X]. Watts, J.D.W. Isaiah 133. (Waco: Word Books Publisher, 1985) [ISBN 0849902231]. Williamson, H.G.M. A critical and exegetical commentary on Isaiah 127. (London; New York: T & T Clark, 2006) [ISBN 0567044513]. Williamson, H.G.M. The book called Isaiah: Deutero-Isaiahs role in composition and redaction. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2005) [ISBN 0199281076]. Whybray R.N. The second Isaiah. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1983) [ISBN: 0905774590].

Ezekiel
Allen, L.C. Ezekiel 2048. (Dallas: Word Books Publisher, 1990) [ISBN 0849902282]. Block, D.I. The book of Ezekiel. Chapters 2548, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998) [ISBN 0802825344 (volume 1); 0802825362 (volume 2)]. Brownlee, W.H. Ezekiel 119. (Waco: Word Books Publisher, 1986) [ISBN 0849902274]. Greenberg, M. Ezekiel 2137. (New York: Doubleday, 1997) [ISBN 0385182007]. Greenberg, M. Ezekiel 120. (New York: Doubleday, 1983) [ISBN 0385009542]. Joyce, P.M. Ezekiel: a commentary. (London: T&T Clark, 2009) [ISBN 056702685X]. Joyce, P.M. Divine initiative and human response in Ezekiel. (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1989) [ISBN 1850750544]. McKeating, H. Ezekiel. (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1993) [ISBN 1850754284]. Milgrom, J. Ezekiel 3848. (New York: Doubleday) forthcoming.

Amos
Andersen, F.I. and Freedman, D.N. Amos. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008) [ISBN 0300140703]. Auld, G. Amos. (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1986) [ISBN 185075005X]. Jrg, J. and D.W. Stott The book of Amos. (Louisville, KY; Westminster: John Knox Press, 1998) [ISBN 0800660234]. Paul, S.M, Amos. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991) [ISBN 0800660234]. Stuart, D. Hosea-Jonah. (Waco, Texas: Word Books Publisher, 1987) [ISBN 0849902355].

Hosea
Andersen, F.I. and Freedman D.N. Hosea. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004) [ISBN 0300139691]. Ben Zvi, E. Hosea: the forms of the Old Testament literature. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005) [ISBN 080280795X]. Davies, G.I. Hosea. (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1993) [ISBN 1850753938]. Macintosh, A.A. A critical and exegetical commentary on Hosea. (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1997) [ISBN 0567085457].

Chapter 1: Introduction

Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi


Coggins, R.J. Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1987) [ISBN 1850750254]. Glazier-McDonald, B. Malachi. The divine messenger. (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1987) [ISBN 1555400930]. Hill, A.E. Malachi. (London: Yale University Press, 2008) [ISBN 0300139772]. Meyers, C.L. and E.M. Meyers Zechariah 914. (New York: Doubleday, 1993) [ISBN 0385144830]. Meyers, C.L. and E.M. Meyers Haggai, Zechariah 18. (Garden City NY: Doubleday, 1988) [ISBN 0385144822]. Petersen, D.L. Zechariah 914 and Malachi. (London: SCM Press, 1995) [ISBN 033402594X]. Smith, R.L. Micah-Malachi. (Waco: Word Books Publisher, 1984) [ISBN 0849902312]. Wolff, H.W. Haggai. (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publ. House, 1988) [ISBN 0806623667].

Journals You will also find it well worth your while looking up the following (many of which may be found through JSTOR or Academic Search Complete:
Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Vetus Testamentum Zeitschrift fr die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft Journal of Hebrew Scriptures Journal of Religion Journal of Theological Studies Journal of Biblical Literature and Biblical Interpretation. (Contains treatment of both OT and NT subjects.)

Websites
www.ntgateway.com/ www.otgateway.com/ http://www.biblegateway.com/

Further reading
Barton. J. Reading the Old Testament: Method in Biblical Study. (London: Darton, Longman & Todd 1996) [ISBN 0232515263], Barton, J. What is the Bible? (London: SPCK, 1991) [ISBN 0281051143]. Blenkinsopp, J. The Pentateuch. (London: SCM Press, 1992) [ISBN 0334022533 (pbk)]. Davies, P.R. (ed.) The prophets. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996) [ISBN 1850757887]. Eaton, J.H. Mysterious messengers: a course on Hebrew prophecy from Amos onwards. (London: SCM Press, 1997) [ISBN 0334027063]. (Eaton provides a useful account of the development of prophetism). Exum, J.C. The historical books. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997) [ISBN 1850757860]. Fewel, D.N. and D.M. Gunn Gender, power and promise: the subject of the Bibles first story. (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1993) [ISBN 0687140420]. Koch, K. The prophets. (London: SCM Press, 1982; 1983) two volumes [ISBN 0334013216 (volume 1); 0334013224 (volume 2)]. Rogerson, J.W. (ed.) The Pentateuch. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996) [ISBN 1850757852]. Rogerson, J.W. and Philip R. Davies The Old Testament world. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989) [ISBN 0521340063]. Sawyer, J.F.A. Prophecy and the biblical prophets. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993) [ISBN 0198262094].

D135 Introduction to the Old Testament

Glossary of abbreviations
Gen. Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy Joshua Judges 1 Samuel 2 Samuel 1 Chronicles 2 Chronicles Nehemiah Isaiah Jeremiah Ezekiel Daniel Hosea Amos Haggai Zechariah Before the Common Era New Testament Old Testament Ex. Lev. Num. Deut. Josh. Judg. 1 Sam. 2 Sam. 1 Chr. 2 Chr. Neh. Isa. Jer. Ezek. Dan. Hos. Am. Hag. Zech. BCE NT OT

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Chapter 2: Introducing the Hebrew scriptures

Chapter 2

Introducing the Hebrew scriptures


Essential reading
Collins, J.J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2004) pp.146. (This is the best introduction for this subject.)

The other introductions approaches are centred on canon (Rendtorff), development of biblical studies, archaeology and the Ancient Near Eastern background (Harrison) or textual criticism (Soggin).
Harrison, R.K Introduction to the Old Testament. Parts 2, 3 and 5. Rendtorff, R. The canonical Hebrew Bible. pp.110 Soggin, J.A. Introduction to the Old Testament. Chapter 1.

Introduction

In your initial reading of the biblical texts, you will be focusing on a particular period of Israels history and its establishment in a particular land. Unless you have a certain familiarity with the geography and history of that land, you will probably be confused and unable to exercise critical judgement on what you are reading. It is essential that we look at the setting of the Hebrew Bible in the geography, history and socio-economic world of the Ancient Near East.

Geographical perspectives

Essential reading For your reading in this section, select one of the following:
Aharoni, Y. The land of the Bible: a historical geography. (London: Burns and Oates, 1979). Baly, D. The geography of the Bible. (Guildford: Lutterworth Press, 1974). Galil, G. and M. Weinfield (eds) Studies in historical geography and biblical historiography. Presented to Zecheria Kallai. (Leiden; Boston; Cologne: Brill, 2000) [ISBN 9004116087]. Gottwald, N. The Hebrew Bible: a socio-literary introduction. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985) Chapter 3. Kallai, Z. Biblical historiography and historical geography. (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1998). Negenman, T. and H.H. Rowley New atlas of the Bible. (London: Collins, 1969). Rogerson, J. and P. Davies The Old Testament world. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).

Use one of the atlases listed above to locate the world of the Ancient Near East. It was narrow, bounded by the Mediterranean on one side and the Trans-Jordanian Uplands and the desert on the other. All trade routes, from one end of the Fertile Crescent to the other (i.e. from Egypt to the Mesopotamian region), had to pass through this narrow corridor. Find out the answers to these questions:

How far were the political and economic fortunes of any group of people living in
this area dictated by the power politics of the whole region? How was the united kingdom under David able to emerge, even for a short period? relevant information on geology, ecology, etc. in the books cited.

Internal factors of geography and ecology are also important. You will find the

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D135 Introduction to the Old Testament

Now list the factors that emphasised the divisive nature of this region. It would
Activities

never be easily unified. How far do we mask this factor by referring to it as the land of Canaan? There was no political unity in the land prior to the emergence of Israel.
1. Draw your own map of Israel at the time of the exile (for this, you will again need to refer to one of the Bible atlases). 2. Look at the geographical features. Where was Israel in relation to the other international powers Egypt and Babylon of the time? Consider its trade routes. How were they oriented? 3. What do you think were the implications of this orientation for Israel in ancient times (remember, the roads were used for military purposes as well as for trade)?

Historical perspectives

Essential reading Several histories of Israel are available. I would suggest:


Soggin, J.A. An introduction to the history of Israel and Judah. (London: SCM Press, 1993). (Chapters 1113, pp.23385, are particularly relevant, though the discussion of methodology in Chapter 3 should also receive attention. It is very desirable for students to have a history of the period available for regular reference. There are several other histories available, but it is probably the most balanced account currently available.)

You may also wish to consult the relevant chapters in:


Coogan, M.D. The Oxford history of the biblical world. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001) Chapters 16. Isserlin, B.S.J. The Israelites. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001). Van Seters, J. In search of history. (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1983). (Van Seters ideas are much discussed, but his books are probably less often read. This is an important study of the nature of history writing in the ancient world which deserves the attention of serious students reflecting on the nature of their source material.)

The rest of the reading will help to build up an all rounded understanding of the background: Recommended background reading:
Ahlstrom, G.W. Who were the Israelites? (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1986). Coote, R.B. Early Israel: a new horizon. (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1990). Davies, P. In search of Ancient Israel. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999). Frick, F.S. The formation of the state in Ancient Israel. (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1985). Garbini, G. History and ideology in Ancient Israel. (London: SCM Press, 1988). Gottwald, N.K. The tribes of Yahweh. (London: SCM Press, 1980). Jagersma, H. A history of Israel in the Old Testament period. (London: SCM Press, 1982). Lemche, N.P. Ancient Israel. (Sheffield: JSOT, 1988). Mazar, A. Archaeology of the land of the Bible. (New York: Doubleday, 1990). Rogerson, J. and P. Davies The Old Testament world. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989) Part 3. Soggin, J.A. History of Israel: from the beginnings to the Bar Kochba revolt, AD 135. (London: SCM Press, 1984). Thompson, T.L. Early History of the Israelite people: from the written and archaeological sources. (Leiden: Brill, 1992). Tubb, D.N., R.L. Chapman with P.G. Dorrell Archaeology and the Bible. (London: British Museum Publications, 1990) Chapter 3. Weippert, M. The settlement of the Israelite tribes in Palestine: a critical survey of recent historical debate. (London: SCM Press, 1971).

12

Chapter 2: Introducing the Hebrew scriptures Whitelam, K.W. The invention of Ancient Israel: the silencing of Palestinian history. (London: Routledge, 1996).

Introduction

A useful starting point to this part of the unit would be to read the short and up-to-date accounts in the books listed in Section 1 above. Before I provide you with a time line of the history of ancient Israel, you should be aware that many scholars take a very sceptical view of what may reliably be known of Israels history in the period that is conventionally described as The Judges Period and The Early Monarchy. For the period you are now studying, this radical scepticism, though not unknown, is not so common; virtually all would agree that there were two closely-related kingdoms, Israel and Judah, in the mid-eighth century BCE; that the Assyrians did indeed bring the independent existence of the northern kingdom, Israel, to an end around 722 BCE; and that Judah was reduced to subject status soon afterwards. Similarly, we know from extra-biblical sources of the downfall of the Assyrians, the rise of the neo-Babylonian Empire under Nebuchadnezzar II, and the replacement of that power in turn by the Persians from Cyrus onward. The overall historical framework of your period is, then, agreed by almost everyone. That does not mean that historical issues do not arise. They certainly do, and characteristically they take one of two forms. Either they are concerned with the actual understanding and interpretation of particular events; or they are concerned with the interpretation of history offered by the Hebrew Bible. We will begin by looking at those historical events which have caused dispute among historians. It may be helpful to consider three in particular; one or other of these will often form the subject of a question, though other topics may also of course be raised.

The Assyrian threat

First, there is the issue of Hezekiahs reaction to the Assyrian threat against Jerusalem in the period around 701 BCE. How are the differences between the Assyrian records and the biblical accounts best explained? How do we understand the discrepancies, real or apparent, within the biblical record? (The theory once popular, of two campaigns of Sennacherib against Judah, is now largely abandoned; but it is still necessary to propose satisfactory answers to the questions which the theory aimed to resolve.) Broadly speaking, it is possible to identify two approaches to this question. It is clear that the biblical account, in its present form, pictures a great deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrian threat (2 Kings 1819; Isaiah 3637). Some scholars regard that as a basically historical account; they explain the absence of reference to such a disaster in the Assyrian records as being due to the tendency of propagandists, ancient and modern, not to mention defeats; and they may make reference to the passage in Herodotus which speaks of mice chewing Assyrian bowstrings as a way of referring to some form of plague. Other scholars, however, are much more doubtful whether this degree of historicity is plausible. They start from the fact, explicit in the Bible and implicit in the Assyrian records, that Jerusalem was not captured. That fact, they argue, gave rise to legends as to Jerusalems inviolability, legends which take their most extreme form in the story of the death of 185,000 Assyrians.

The rise of Babylon

Secondly, there are various historical issues which cause dispute in our understanding of the last years of Judah. Is Josiahs reform reliably reported, and should we see it as a declaration of political independence? Or has its importance been greatly exaggerated by the (deuteronomistic) writers of 2 Kings, who wanted to stress the centrality and antiquity of their reading of the peoples history and law? (The virtual lack of reference to the reform in Jeremiah, and its complete absence from Ezekiel, are relevant here.)
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D135 Introduction to the Old Testament

In the years following Josiah, how far are we able to reconstruct the course of events? Was the real end of Judah and Jerusalem 597 BCE, with the reign of Zedekiah just an epilogue, or is that a misleading understanding?

Cyrus and the Persian Empire

Thirdly, historical questions arise with regard to the last part of the period: the fall of the Babylonian Empire and the rise of Persia. The Persians are very favourably treated in the Hebrew Bible, as compared with the way they are pictured in Greek literature, where they are often regarded as oriental barbarians. Some scholars have supposed that this is due to the fact that much of the Hebrew Bible reached its final form when the Persians were ruling. Is this too cynical a view? However that may be, questions certainly arise concerning Persian policy. Did they really authorise a return from exile in c.538 BCE, or is that the idealised picture of a later group of Jews? It may be asked whether Isaiah 4055 gives us a picture of the Jewish community in Babylon, hoping for a return to Palestine. The same kind of issue will, however, arise, if we move on a few years, to the time of Haggai and Zechariah, usually taken as c.520 BCE. The particular problems of those books we will consider below; here it may suffice simply to notice that their historical setting has occasioned discussion. Haggai seems to say nothing of a return from exile. Is this a significant omission? Some have alleged that Zechariah reflects a shift of interest from Zerubbabel to Joshua, and that this may imply a shift from more political aspirations to a purely religious role. Is there any weight in such proposals? It is important at this stage to try to fix in your mind a simple time-chart in which you can locate the material you are studying. Date c.1300 bce c.1250 bce c.1020 bce 930 bce 722 bce 640609 bce 597 bce Event Exodus from Egypt? Period of the Judges? United monarchy? The united kingdom splits into a northern kingdom (Samaria) and a southern kingdom (Judah) The fall of the northern kingdom at the hands of the Assyrians. The reign of Josiah, king of Judah, who dies at the hands of the Egyptians in 609. The book of Deuteronomy is allegedly discovered during this time. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, invades and conquers Judah. This is the time of the first deportation in which Jehoiachin, then king of Judah, was taken to Babylon (Ezekiel was among this group). Zedekiah, a puppet king who was put on the throne by the Babylonians, reigns in Jehoiachins place. The country is left virtually in ashes: we know from archaeological evidence that most fortified cities were destroyed. The so-called First Temple was burned to the ground. Rebellion leads to the return of Babylonian troops and a second deportation. The Babylonian governor, Gedeliah, is assassinated. The time of the third deportation, probably as a result of the political chaos that followed Gedeliahs death. Cyrus, king of Persia, invades Babylon. The captive nations are allowed to go back home with the financial and political support of the Persians (see the section in Chapter 6, Deutero-Isaiah). This marks the beginning of the period of the Second Temple. The Persian era. The Hellenistic era, which continues until the arrival of the Romans in Palestine.

587 bce 582 bce 539 bce

539333 bce 33363 bce

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Chapter 2: Introducing the Hebrew scriptures

Now read the relevant chapters of one of the more detailed histories of your period. It must, however, be stressed that recent developments have brought a fundamental question to the fore: is it possible to write a narrative history of ancient Israel? Where, for example, can a history of Israel legitimately start? In his work, Soggin (1984) treats the period of David and Solomon as historical, whereas the traditions concerning the conquest and Judges are termed protohistory. Other scholars will state the problem in another fashion, namely that Israels history does not start until it is established in the land of Canaan. Study tip: When you answer any question about the presentation of Israels history, it is useful to note that retelling the biblical story is not sufficient. We cannot simply read off the biblical account as history. Ideologies of the text In the last few decades, there has been a tremendous shift of focus in the study of biblical texts. Previously, scholars had attempted to reconstruct the actual history of early Israel on the basis of books from the Bible. Now, however, the focus is on how the story is told. There is less concern with the texts as a source for the social or political history of the Israelite past, and more interest in a particular texts literary merits and ideology. The ideology can be illustrated by the polarity that existed between Canaan and Israel: Gottwald (1980) argues that we in fact witness a peasants revolt in other words, Israel emerged as a political entity from Canaan itself, perhaps during the transition between the late Bronze Age to the Iron Age. Israel was, perhaps, indigenous to the land after all, and the polarity between Israel and Canaan is simply a matter of biblical ideology. Refer here to the Essential reading at the beginning of this chapter to help you understand this debate. There is much scepticism, therefore, about our ability to write a narrative history of early Israel. Some scholars regard the current approach as too sceptical, while others would go even further and question our knowledge not just of Israels origins in the land but also of the period of the monarchy. You must judge for yourself the merits of all sides in this debate. However, the methodological questions raised are well founded. A fundamental question to emerge, which you are strongly advised to ponder, is how far Israel, in later times, grafted onto her origins the unity she had experienced, at least for a short period, under David and Solomon.

The contribution of archaeology

Essential reading You will find an excellent section on archaeology in one of the suggested textbooks:
Harrison, R.K Introduction to the Old Testament. (Peabody, MA: Eerdmans, 2004) Part 2.

For your further reading in this section, select one of the following (you may also wish to look at the list of background reading on pp.1213).
Avi-Yonah, M. (ed.) The encyclopedia of archaeological excavations in the Holy Land. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 19751978). Finkelstein, I. The archaeology of the Israelite settlement. (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society,1988). Kenyon, K.M. Archaeology in the Holy Land. (London: Methuen, 1985). (This is rather dated, but is one of the classics.) Laughlin, C.H. Archaeology and the Bible. (New York: Doubleday, 2000). Millard, A. Discoveries from Bible times. (Oxford: Lion, 1997). Moorey, P.R.S. A century of biblical archaeology. (Cambridge: Lutterworth Press, 1991). Murphy-OConnor, J. The Holy Land. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992). Ramsey, G.W. The quest for the historical Israel. (London: SCM Press, 1982).

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Archaeology is an important source for the historian, and, although questions in the examination paper will rarely deal solely with archaeology, you must be aware of the discussions about the value and the limitations of this field for the historian. You must also be able to handle critically archaeological data that impinge on the period you are studying. A valuable overview of the developments in this field is provided by Mooreys book. There is a lot of valuable material in the Encyclopedia, while Ramsey and Moorey contain discussions of the relationship between archaeology and the biblical text. Some scholars even question whether we should use the term biblical archaeology at all. Instead, they talk of the archaeology of the Ancient Near East a broader canvas against which we can critically read the biblical texts.

Diversity of the literary material


Essential reading:
Coggins, R.J. Introducing the Old Testament. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990).

You may also wish to consult:


Boer, R. Bakhtin and genre theory in biblical studies. (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2007).

It is vital that, as part of your critical reading of the text, you should ask the question of its genre, (that is, what kind of text it is). The literature you will encounter, in the form of the selected texts of this syllabus, presents a wide variety of genres: you will find poetry, narrative, history writing, wisdom and prophecy, to name just a few. You must be able to identify, or at least be alert to, these genres when coming to the text. For example, is Ex. 115 a myth, a cultic liturgy or a history (or a bit of all the above)? There will be further discussion on this later on in the subject guide.

Learning outcomes
After studying this chapter, and the relevant reading, you should be able to: discuss Israels geography and ecology describe the historical events of Ancient Israel critically question the biblical account of Israels history, taking into account the nature of history and the sources available to the historian.

Sample examination question


In what sense, if any, would you describe the books of 1 and 2 Kings as historical books?

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Chapter 3: Torah

Chapter 3

Torah
Essential reading
Blenkinsopp, J. The Pentateuch. (London: SCM Press, 1992) Chapter 2: the basic features of the Pentateuch: structure and chronology. (It is essential to read this now.) Clines, D.J.A. The theme of the Pentateuch. (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1997). Collins, J.J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2004) Chapter 2.

Further reading
Blenkinsopp, J. Treasures old and new: essays in the theology of the Pentateuch. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004). Clifford, R.J. Creation accounts in the Ancient Near East and in the Bible. (Washington DC: Catholic Biblical Association, 1994). Cragie, P.C. Ugarit and the Old Testament. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972). Dally, S. Myths from Mesopotamia. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989). Dally, S. The epic of Gilgamesh. (New York: Penguin, 2003). Harrison, R.K. Introduction to the Old Testament. (Peabody, MA. Eeudmans, 2004) pp.493541. Knight, D.A. and G.M. Tucker The Hebrew Bible and its modern interpreters. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985), especially Ackroyd (pp.297323), Knight (pp.263296). Knoppers, G.N. and B.M. Levinson (eds) The Pentateuch as Torah: new models for understanding its promulgation and acceptance. (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2007). Nihan, C. From priestly Torah to Pentateuch: a study in the composition of the book of Leviticus. (Tbingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2007). Rendtorff, R. The Canonical Hebrew Bible. (Leiden: Deo Publishing, 2005). Rogerson, J.W. Genesis 111. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1991). Soggin, J.A. Introduction to the Old Testament. (London: SCM Press, 1989) Chapters 7 and 8. Whybray, R.N. The making of the Pentateuch. (Sheffield: JSOT, 1987) This is a comprehensive treatment of the classical view, and also provides a critique of it.

Introduction

Torah, otherwise known as the Pentateuch, has been considered the most important part of the OT Jewish tradition has it that everything else is just a commentary on this core. Look at your time-chart in Chapter 1. Having taken on board that there are difficulties surrounding the writing of a history of Israel, take your mind to one of the most fertile periods in the history of Israel the exile. This was a formative time for many reasons, but primarily because the people of Israel, having been vanquished by the more powerful neo-Babylonians in 597587 bce, underwent a major theological crisis, which itself led to major literary activity in fact, this period was to become the most fruitful of all times. In an effort to help their people understand the causes of the exile, a whole school of authors and editors of the time brought together traditions (both oral and written) in order to show where, when and why mistakes occurred. These are the deuteronomistic historians whose stance and work we will examine later in Chapter 4.

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D135 Introduction to the Old Testament

During this time of crisis, such going back to basics assumed a truly pastoral task which aimed to give the people hope. To accomplish this, it was essential that they regained their sense of identity: who they were, where they came from, where they were going. What was their relationship with the world, and with each other? Where did they figure in the great scheme of things (Gen. 111)? What made them so special (Ex. 115)? How should they live out this special understanding of themselves as the chosen people of God (Deuteronomy)? And how were they to understand their role and the role of their God in the historical process (see Chapters 3, 5 and 6)? One of the major tasks of the exile was to shape and to edit the Torah in response to these questions. The process of carrying out that task was complex, but it is essential that you have a general idea of the theories of how it was compiled. The material we are going to examine in this chapter is taken from the Torah. Because the subject is huge and far beyond the scope of this guide, I will concentrate on two aspects: the question of definition, and the various methods of reading the text. This is important as it is going to determine the way we understand a text.

Definition

In the Christian tradition, the first five books of the OT have been known as the Pentateuch, at least since the time of Origen (a famous early church father). The word pentateuch itself comes from the Greek: it is in fact composed of two Greek words: pente (five) and teuche (scroll). It thus designates what is called in Hebrew torah, which is generally translated by the Greek word nomos, or law, although this translation is somehow inaccurate. The Hebrew word torah has a much wider meaning than that of law. In some texts, Torah was the response demanded by the priest from the person in the sanctuary (Deut. 33:10). In others, Torah refers to a set of rules, as in the torah of sacrifices. Often the prophets associated the meaning of teaching to Torah (Jer 31:33: torah is written on the hearts of the people). Only in Nehemiah 8, where Ezra promulgates the law of Moses, is it referred to as the first five books of the OT. Note, by extension, that sometimes Torah designates the whole of Hebrew Scripture. However, it is essential to remember that Torahs meaning, although including legal decisions and rules, also encompasses all the narratives and suggests a vision of history based on election and redemption. Therefore, Torah must not be understood in a strict legalistic sense only, but in the wider meaning of a teaching revealed by God for our salvation. An even better way to grasp the meaning of Torah is to say that it is a way of life.

Activity
The titles of the five books attempt to give a schematic idea of their content (all the titles come from the Greek): the story of the origins, in Genesis; the coming out of Egypt, in Exodus; the role of the sons of Levi in the cultic legislation, in Leviticus; the counting of the tribes, in Numbers; and Deuteronomy (in Greek the second law) is a repetition of the law found in Exodus. Construct a basic storyline, including its anomalies, for the Pentateuch, using a time-line. Make notes to remind yourself of the four points made in Blenkinsopp (1992) pp.51ff.

How we read Torah


1 See Deut. 34:512 could this passage really have been written by Moses?

This issue relates to the problem of authorship. Traditional opinion has it that Torah was compiled by Moses himself or at least that the material in the book, if not its final shape, goes back to Moses. However, even in ancient times there were those who doubted that Moses could have written the whole of the Pentateuch.1

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Chapter 3: Torah

The first scientific questions on the origins of the material come with the observations of two seventeenth-century philosophers Thomas Hobbes and Baruch Spinoza. They observed that the books were full of repetitions and seemed to lack the style of a single author. Look up the following passages:

Ex. 3:611; 6:112 Ex. 20:217; Deut. 5:621 Gen. 12:1020; 20:118; 26:614.
Eventually two sources were suggested, which could have been used by Moses who combined them:

J (after the German word for the name of God, Jahweh) E (for Elohist, derived from another name for God).
Without going into much detail, it is enough to say that in this way source criticism was born. It was refined by the German theologian, J. Wellhausen, in the nineteenth century, into what is referred to as the documentary hypothesis. By this time, two further sources were added: D for Deuteronomist, and P for Priestly. Here are the four sources of documentary hypothesis in tabular form. Yahwist J Names for God Theology God is YHWH: he walks and talks with humans stress on blessings/ promises earthly speech stress on leaders narratives and warnings Elohist E God is Elohim: he speaks in dreams stress on fear of the Lord Priestly P God is Elohim Deuteronomist D God is Yahweh

cultic approach to God: stress on law obeyed

moralistic approach to God: stress on Mosaic obedience recalls God's work stress on the fidelity to Jerusalem long homiletic stories the whole land of Israel is emphasised the book of Deuteronomy

Manner of speech Ideology or viewpoint Style

refined speech about majestic speech God about God stress on the prophetic narratives and speeches stress on northern Israel uses terms like: Horeb Date: eighth century
bce

stress on the cultic dry lists and schemata stress on Judah

Geographical nationalistic stress focus on Judah Distinctive vocabulary Date uses terms like: Sinai Davidic Empire Example: Gen. 2:4ff Promise to the Patriarchs

the Exile

seventh century bce

Example: Gen. 2022

Now read Blenkinsopp (1992) Chapter 1, pp.119. The view set out here, which became orthodoxy in the last century, has recently been criticised. Here are some of the arguments that have contributed to this discrediting of the documentary hypothesis.

It is easy to see, just by looking at the table above, that the hypothesis is dependent Such analysis also depends on aesthetic premises that are arbitrary. Think how

on a view of the world that is essentially marked by evolution from the primitive to the more civilised. much our aesthetic canons have changed in the last century their disparity becomes even more marked when we apply them to texts at least 25 centuries old! quest for objectivity, towards a view of reality that is much more subjective (i.e. reality is that which is construed as reality).
19

There has been a shift in epistemology: we have moved from the Enlightenments

D135 Introduction to the Old Testament

Activity
Read Harrison pp.495-541 or Blenkinsopp (1992) Chapter 1, pp.1925. Make notes on his provisional conclusions. What is your opinion on the matter? What difference does it make to read the text as part of source theory or, let us say, as narrative, or continuous story?

Learning outcomes
From your study so far and the relevant reading, you should be able to: describe the exilic period and its basic theological questions outline the issues connected with the making of the Pentateuch discuss the influence of ideologies on the text.

Gen. 111: cosmology and identity

Essential reading You should refer to your chosen textbook and supplement it with one book selected from the further reading list (see below for page references).
Collins, J.J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2004) Chapter 3. Harrison, R.K Introduction to the Old Testament. pp.54266. Rendtorff, R. The canonical Hebrew Bible. pp.1121. Rogerson, J. Genesis 111. (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1991). Soggin, J.A. Introduction to the Old Testament: there is no formal chapter on Gen. 111.

Commentaries You may wish to consult the relevant commentaries listed on page 5. There are a number of series of commentaries. However a good place to begin is the Oxford Bible commentary. Further reading
Blenkinsopp, J. The Pentateuch. (London: SCM Press, 1992). Fewel, D.N. and D.M. Gunn Gender, power and promise: the subject of the Bibles first story. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993) Chapter 1. Hendel, R. Genesis 111 and its Mesopotamian problem in E.S. Gruen (ed.) Cultural borrowings and ethnic appropriations in antiquity. (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2005) pp.2336. Hendel, R.S. The text of Genesis 111: textual studies and critical edition. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002). Hess, R S. and D.T. Tsumura (eds) I studied inscriptions from before the Flood: Ancient Near Eastern, literary and linguistic approaches to Genesis 111. (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1994). Thompson, T.L. The origin tradition of Ancient Israel: the literary formation of Genesis and Ex. 123. (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1987). Van Wolde, E. Stories of the beginning. (London: SCM Press, 1996).

Additional material is suggested in the course of the discussions in this chapter. Introduction We must study Gen. 111 because it is at the beginning of the Bible. This is not such a facetious remark. It is important, before we can appreciate the impact of events in the OT (or indeed in the NT), that we first lay the foundations of meaning in order to establish the tone of the text and what is Gods grand plan for humanity. More on this later. Gen. 111 is usually referred to as the primeval history that is, the story of the origins. In the wake of their loss of land, God and country, it was essential that the Israelites (re)established their sense of identity. The people needed to be told who

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Chapter 3: Torah

they were and where they came from like the age-old demand of children from parents: Tell me again the story of how I came into being. How was I when I was a baby?
Without a story at the beginning, human beings face chaos, and their origin seems to be an abyss. In order to provide a foundation for existence, the beginning was filled with meaning. Moreover, every culture attaches a meaning to the beginning, often in the form of stories. These are not stories in the sense of tales, but realities in which people live. These are stories which give people roots. (Van Wolde, 1996, p.1)

Asking the right questions


Recommended reading Please read one of the following:
Blenkinsopp, J. The Pentateuch. (London: SCM Press, 1992) Chapter 3. Rogerson, J. Genesis 111. (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1991) Chapters 1, 2 and p.52ff (on myth). Van Wolde, E. Stories of the beginning. (London: SCM Press, 1996) Introduction (pp.18).

Further reading
Clines, D.J.A. What does Eve do to help? and other readerly questions to the Old Testament. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1990). Clines, D.J.A. The theme of the Pentateuch. (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1997). Cohn, R.L. Narrative structure and canonical persperctive in Genesis, JSOT 25 1983, pp.316.

The book of Genesis covers a vast amount of time, stretching from the beginning of time itself to the so-called patriarchal era, sometime in the second millennium bce. According to geologists, the earth is at least four billion years old, and some anthropologists believe that human beings have been around for at least two million of those years. The authors of Genesis did not know this, nor did they care. They simply wished to sketch out some of the highlights of human origins which had particular relevance for Israels view of life, and to record a few of the traditions of their ancestors which would help them understand how they came to be a people and a nation. The story we have for indeed it is a story has meaning. But what did it mean for its final editor? What did it mean for his audience? What does it mean for us, hearing it many centuries later? To explore this fruitfully, we are going to have to ask what kind of literary text have we got. Is it a myth, a wisdom text, a scientific report, an etiology (that is, a story to explain how things came to be), or a theological dissertation?

A myth (in the sense used by Plato, and not in the sense of an untrue story, or one

that is concerned with gods and goddesses): this is a poetic expression of belief in realities beyond or underlying the perceived world. In other words, a myth is a story that seeks to articulate an understanding of the world, and to help human beings come to grips with the nature and meaning of their own existence. The Roman historian Sallust, writing in the first century bce, aptly characterised it as follows: a myth has never happened. It happens every day. live? What is the meaning of our existence? Why do we suffer? Why do we die? All these are paramount in the exilic context. Why is life so harsh? Why do we have to work? Questions like these have lain at the heart of human existence both then and now. Their answers function as a sanction for the present order: they help people to see how they fit into the natural and social order, and to accept the answers!

A wisdom text: wisdom is concerned with questions of life and death. Why do we

Etiology: why do women give birth in pain? Why do snakes crawl on their bellies?

Neither wisdom nor myth nor etiologies can be read as statements of historical or scientific causality.
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D135 Introduction to the Old Testament

Gen. 1: a cosmology
Read:
Blenkinsopp, J. The Pentateuch. (London: SCM Press, 1992) Chapter 3.

The first chapter of Genesis shares many of the theological suppositions of the ancient world. Most of the stories found there and in the following chapters may be best read as presenting an alternative world view to that generally accepted, say, by the Babylonians (among whom the Israelites were now living) at the time of the exile. Gen. 1, on the one hand, challenged assumptions about the nature of God, the world and humankind. But, at the same time, the polemical thrust of Gen. 111 did not obscure the fact that, at certain points, biblical and extra-biblical thought were in agreement. Indeed, Genesis and the world of the Ancient Near East had probably more in common with each other than either has with modern secular thought. One thing they had in common was their cosmology. The following table offers a comparison between Gen. 1 and the Enuma Elish, a Babylonian account of the worlds origins. Genesis The divine spirit creates by word. Earth is desolate; darkness covers the deep. Day 1: The creation of light. Day 2: The creation of the firmament. Day 3: The creation of dry land. Day 4: The creation of heavenly lights. Day 5: The creation of animals (water and sky). Day 6: The creation of human beings. Day 7: God rests and sanctifies the Sabbath. The creation of human beings. The gods rest and celebrate. Enuma Elish Divine spirits and cosmic matter coexist. Primeval chaos; the war of the gods against Tiamat (the sea). Light emanates from the gods. The creation of the firmament. The creation of dry land. The creation of heavenly lights.

Now read Chapter 1 of Genesis: it provides a brilliant beginning to the OT, combining as it does narrative style with the poetry of a hymn. Its carefully worked out structure, alongside the repetition of key expressions, work together to create a powerful effect for the audience. Of course, the goal of the narrator was to make the audience experience something of the majesty of God, but it was also perhaps to set the plot as expressed at the end of the chapter (vv.2628). This plot can be separated into several themes:

human beings are created in the image and likeness of God they are to multiply and fill the earth they are to subdue and have dominion over the earth and all living creatures.
The creation unfolds over six days, which are carefully balanced into three pairs. There are correspondences that link Day 1 with Day 4, Day 2 with Day 5, and Day 3 with Day 6. Day Day 1 (H) Day 2 (H) Day 3 (E) Event creation of light creation of the heavens and water creation of land and plants Linking Day Day 4 (H) Day 5 (E) Day 6 (E) Event creation of luminaries creation of fish and birds creation of vegetable food, humankind and animals

Day 7 the Sabbath

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Chapter 3: Torah

Points to note: 1. There are two poles heaven (H) and earth (E); the focus moves from heaven to earth, and ends with a close-up on humankind. 2. The first three days (Days 13) show the creation in its generalities; while the next three days (Days 46) present those of its features that impinge directly upon the human habitat. 3. The vocabulary is misleading. The use of words like image and likeness suggests that, in this well-ordered universe, the whole of humanity is given a task akin to that of kingship. However, that task is actually more about being caring stewards of the earth to manage the earths resources in a responsible manner would translate better the kinds of ideas presented here. Activities
1. Pause to think about the implications of such a command to be caring stewards of the earth: from an ecological perspective from a feminist perspective from the perspective of liberation theology. To help you with your reflection, see the relevant sections in Rogerson (1991) Chapters 1 and 2. Think, too, about what kind of text carries such meaning. You may want to explore the creationist debate about science and Gen. 1. (Rogerson, 1991, pp.1213.)

2. Draw a picture of the cosmos pictured in Gen. 1. (Remember, this is a tripartite picture of the universe: land, waters and skies.)

Summary Genesis sets itself apart in significant ways.

There is only one God. Creation is conceived as order: there are clear boundaries. Creation is good for achieving its own purpose: it is a viable setting for life. Human beings have a place of honour in the created order. They have responsibility to look after creation.

Gen. 23: in the garden

Recommended reading Your reading for this section should focus on one of the following:
Barr, J. The Garden of Eden and the hope of immortality. (London: SCM Press, 1992) Chapter 1. Blenkinsopp, J. The Pentateuch. (London: SCM Press, 1992) pp.6367. Rogerson, J.W. Genesis 111. (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1991) pp.5365.

Further reading There are many books on Near Eastern Creation accounts, but I will suggest two that are fairly comprehensive and easily accessible:
Barr, J. Is God a liar? (Genesis 23) and related matters, Journal of theological studies 57(1) 2006, p.1 22. Hart, G. Egyptian myths. (London: British Museum Publications, 1990) pp.928. McCall, H. Mesopotamian myths. (London: British Museum Publications, 1990) pp.5259.

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D135 Introduction to the Old Testament Mettinger, T.N.D. The Eden narrative: a literary and religio-historical study of Genesis 23. (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2007). Moberly, R.W.L. Did the interpreters get it right? Genesis 23 reconsidered, Journal of theological studies 59(1) 2008 pp.2240. Stratton, B.J. Out of Eden: reading, rhetoric, and ideology in Genesis 23. (Sheffield, Sheffield Academic Press, 1995). Walton, J.H. Creation in Genesis 1:12:3 and the Ancient Near East: order out of disorder after Chaoskampf, Calvin theological journal 43(1) 2008 pp.4863.

Now that the framework has been set, Genesis turns the focus on human beings. There has been a raging debate over the meaning of the creation of Adam and Eve, and you can read all about this in the suggested readings above. However, it is enough to say here that, since the wider context has been established in Gen. 1, the creation process continues to introduce the main protagonists. Adam was created from the earth, perhaps referring back to old Egyptian images of the great God Knum, the potter God; and Eve was created from Adams flesh, highlighting her similarity of nature (as opposed to the animals). Thus humans are set apart from the rest of the creation and shown to be made of the same stuff. You may think it strange that it is the man who gave birth to the woman, thereby perverting the normal natural order. Was this perhaps a case of men having to justify the existence of a patriarchal political order? Further boundaries are established this may well be the meaning of the scene that takes place in the garden of Eden. The text functions on several levels.

You have already identified the exilic context in which the text is constructed. This

was essential to give the people both a strong sense of their identity and of their boundaries a little like helping children to learn how to get on in the world and to grow through their inevitable mistakes. knowledge and death, and this awareness of human mortality is evident throughout the text. This echoes other stories from the Ancient Near East: for example, the Gilgamesh epic describes a hero who was given a root/fruit of immortality but who did not have time to consume it before it was stolen by a serpent.

On another level, the people had also to understand the connection between

Read like this at the two levels of growth and of coming to terms with death Gen.23 presents an intriguing picture in which Eve finds a way to become immortal through giving birth to children. This is not personal immortality, but rather a healthy reminder of the importance of a community of people and its survival through future generations (a frequent theme in the OT). Summary Further boundaries have been established.

There is increasing division and separation (from the earth, from the animals,
between the sexes).

There is a progressive consciousness of the role and function of humankind. Whereas an individuals lifespan is limited by death, immortality is to be found in
the community. In other words, human beings have conceptualised their place in the cosmos, and have given their lives and destiny meaning.

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Activities
1. Consider Blenkinsopps (1992) reading of Gen. 13 within the context of the exile. According to him, the writer has recast the national experience of destruction in universal terms by the use of familiar mythic themes and structures and by placing it at the beginning as a foreshadowing of what was to follow. Make charts comparing the various creation stories. What are their main points of agreement and dissension. Can you explain the differences?

2. For a feminist perspective, see Brenners Feminist companion to Genesis (1995) Part 1, where there are articles on these chapters on Genesis which you may find helpful. Choose one specific feminist reading from Brenner and write a summary evaluating it.

Gen. 45: Creation perverted


Recommended reading
Blenkinsopp, J. The Pentateuch. (London: SCM Press, 1992) pp.5859. Rogerson, J.W. Genesis 111. (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1991) Chapter 3, pp.6667.

The story of Cain and Abel in Gen. 4 has been understood as an early recollection of two different lifestyles, nomadic and agricultural. It may also be an account of the spread of the first urban centres. Leaving the garden is a parable for coming to terms with the difficulties and problems of human life. It is hard work to live, and it is dangerous. The Toledoth, a Hebrew word meaning generations, also stands for genealogies and has an important structural function. There are five Toledoth in all in the primeval story. Activity
Look up the Toledoth and write them down. How do they help to link various parts of the narrative?

Note that the transition from the Cain and Abel episode to the flood is bridged by a list of Adams descendants. Its literary function is to unify the narratives by providing a coherent, consecutive chain from Adam to Noah (and later, in a subsequent chapter, to Abraham). The story is set in the wider context of Gen. 112: it is a preparation for the flood. Not everything is well, for there is a surfacing element of un-creation. The purpose of humankind has been perverted by murder. This theme is further developed in the next section.

Gen. 69: the flood story


Recommended reading Further reading
Barr, J. The Garden of Eden and the hope of immortality. (London: SCM Press, 1992) Chapter 4. Clines, D.J.A. The significance of the sons of God episode (Genesis 6:14) in the context of the primeval history (Genesis 111), JSOT 13 1979 pp.3346. Larsson, G. Remarks concerning the Noah-Flood Complex, Zeitschrift fr die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 112(1) (2000) pp.7577. McCall, H. Mesopotamian myths. (London: British Museum Publications, 1990) pp.3851. (This presents the point of view of the Ancient Near East.) Shaviv, S. The polytheistic origins of the biblical flood narrative, Vetus Testamentum 54(4) 2004 pp.52748. Blenkinsopp, J. The Pentateuch. (London: SCM Press, 1992) pp.7787.

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The story of the sons of God coming to take the daughters of humankind in marriage (Gen. 6:14) functions as a prelude to the flood narrative. It illustrates the confusion of order that lies at the heart of this theme of uncreation. Remember that the creation in Gen. 1 is one that posits limits, and breaching those limits has serious consequences. What could be more serious than the intrusion of heaven on earth? This heralds the uncreation by flood. Structurally, the flood story is set within Gen. 112. This is a decisive event, functioning as a second creation. Note the following parallels between Gen. 1 and Gen. 9: Gen. 1 Gen. 1 = the separation of waters 1:28ff. = blessing on mankind 1:2628 = command to reproduce and fill the earth 1:26ff. = stewardship provision is made for eating responsibilities gounded in Noah's covenant permission is given to eat meat Gen. 9 Gen. 9 = the waters retreat 9:1 = blessing on mankind

However, please note that this is not an integral restoration.

Each story (cf. Gen. 13) begins with planting. The blessing in Gen. 9:17 is reminiscent of 1:2830 but with a significant
difference: animals now fear humankind, and for good reason.

The possibly vegetarian world of Gen. 13 is replaced by a meat-eating one.


However, there is a limit to this note the warning against the taking of life.

It is clear that violence can be controlled but not eradicated. There are dispositions for the protection of human life; and humankind takes
responsibility for ensuring that justice is meted out in cases of murder. Summary In this new world, humankind has new rights and new responsibilities; there is a steady increase in human autonomy.

There is an increasing dissociation between the actions of humanity and of the

created world. Noahs world is our world; it is the world in which the rest of the biblical history and human history takes place. (the rainbow); this covenant is established with Noah, his descendants and the earth. new relationship with nature and society.

Human responsibility is grounded in Gods covenant which is universal and ecological The story of the flood demonstrates the new role of humanity in this world and its Noahs covenant predicates the hope of human and non-human creation on the
unconditional commitment of the Creator to humankind, to non-human creatures, and to the order and regularity of nature.

Gen. 1012: back to the real world


Recommended reading
Blenkinsopp, J. The Pentateuch. (London: SCM Press, 1992) pp.8797. Hiebert, T. The Tower of Babel and the origin of the worlds cultures, Journal of biblical literature 126(1) 2007 pp.2958. Swiggers, P. Babel and the confusion of tongues (Genesis 11:1-9), in Lange, A., H. Lichtenberger and R. Diethard (eds.) Mythos im Alten Testament und seiner Umwelt. Festschrift fr Hans-Peter Mller zum 65. Geburtstag, (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1999) pp.18295.

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The so-called Table of Nations in Gen. 10 has a purpose to show that, with Gods renewed blessing after the flood, there is still fertility. This is paramount, as the plan of God for humankind on earth (i.e. to reproduce and fill the earth) needs to develop. The analysis of the story shows a complex development. There seems actually to have been two stories: one dealing with the origin of language and the other with the attempt to build a city. Following on from this is the story of the tower of Babel. As we have it, this is a narrative about limits or, rather, about the transgression of limits. The tower is reminiscent of Etemenanki, the Babylonian tower-temple which would probably have been familiar to the exiles. The building is meant to reach heaven and God. But note the irony: God must come down to see it! The theme, again, is about the confusion of order. People should remain on earth and not trespass on Gods territory. The scale of confusion reaches a much greater proportion than before. There is constant movement and change as humanity continues to adapt to new situations and to test boundaries in the constant quest for growth and knowledge. Could one of the lessons of this well-known story be that the unchecked drive for life is ultimately counterproductive and may result in death, destruction and isolation? Gen. 11 continues the genealogy from Gen. 5, and bridges the gap between mythical times to historical times by listing the generations from Noah to Abraham. God narrows down his choice to one man and one nation who will fulfil the command of Gen. 1:26ff. As we end this section, it is important to see that the wider context of the primeval history explains the significance of the patriarchal story. The patriarchs were men who would help to fulfil the plan of God for humanity. It is essential, therefore, not to stop the primeval history at Gen. 11 but to go on to the patriarchal narratives.

Learning outcomes
After your study so far and the relevant reading, you should be able to: outline the issues connected with Gen. 112 develop an awareness of its basic theological questions analyse the literary patterns of the story distinguish the many literary forms of the text articulate various readings of Gen. 112.

Ex. 115: a chosen people


Essential reading
Collins, J.J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. (Minneapolois, MN: Fortress Press, 2004) Chapter 5. Harrison, R.K Introduction to the Old Testament. pp.56682. Johnstone, W. Exodus. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1991). Rendtorff, R. The Canonical Hebrew Bible. pp.3454. Soggin, J.A. Introduction to the Old Testament. (There is no formal chapter on Ex. 115.)

Further reading You should supplement your reading with one of the following:
Blenkinsopp, J. The Pentateuch. (London: SCM Press, 1992) Chapter 5. Fewel, D.N. and D.M. Gunn Gender, power and promise: the subject of the Bibles first story. (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1993) Chapters 4 and 5. Rogerson, J.W., R.W.L. Moberley and W. Johnstone Genesis and Exodus. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001). Thompson, T.L. The origin tradition of Ancient Israel: the literary formation of Genesis and Exodus. (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1987) Chapter 4.

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Recommended commentaries You may wish to consult one of the commentaries on the reading list (see p.7). Also helpful are:
Barton, J. and J. Muddiman (eds) The Oxford Bible commentary. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001). Fretheim, T.E. Exodus. (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1991).

A foundation myth for Israel Ex. 115 tells the story of deliverance from oppression by Yahweh, the God of the fathers. It retells a mighty battle between life and death, chaos and creation. At a symbolic level, this is a foundation myth note the strategic reference to the first-born. The motif of the hardening of Pharaohs heart indicates that dominance over Israel is of prime significance (let my people go that they may worship/serve me): a cosmic battle is thus engaged between Yahweh, the God of Life, and Pharaoh who represents the powers of death. The story dramatically culminates in the story of the so-called plagues, in particular the tenth plague, and the Passover narrative. The Passover was presented and perceived as central to the experience of deliverance from oppression. It was in this foundational event that Israel understood itself as a saved nation. Coming out of Egypt was the moment of the creation for the chosen people of Israel, whose allegiance was now to Yahweh. Questions of historicity For many years scholars attempted to determine the dates of the exodus events. There are mainly two hypotheses referred to as the long and the short chronologies. Activity
Read Johnstone (1991) pp.2026. List the various arguments for and against each of the aforementioned chronologies.

Here are possible chronologies for the exodus. I have put them in a table. Events
A people of mixed Semitic and Asian descent who invaded Egypt around 1640 BCE.
2

Dates around 1700 bce around 1550 15001450 bce 14001350 bce 1350 bce 12901244 bce

Hypothesis I (long chronology) Arrival of the Hebrews? Oppression? Exodus?

Hypothesis II (short chronology)

Invasion of the Hyksos2 Expulsion of the Hyksos by Ahmosis I Thutmosis III Tell-el-Amarna tablets Amenhotep III and IV Sethi I Ramses II (the cities of Pithom and Rameses are mentioned in Ex. 1:11) Merneptah stele (first mention of Israel as a nation)

Arrival of the Hebrews? Oppression? Exodus?

around 1200 bce

The First Temple built 480 years after the exodus (1 Kings 6:1)

The cities of Rameses and Pithom built under the nineteenth dynasty (Ex. 1:11)

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There is a third hypothesis whereby the Hebrews arrived in Egypt around 1550 bce, where they remained for four hundred years according to Gen. 15.13. Compare Ex. 12:40, which gives the length of the Hebrews sojourn in Egypt as 430 years.
3 Transhumance n. the action or practice of moving livestock seasonally from one grazing ground to another, typically to lowlands in winter and highlands in summer (Concise Oxford English Dictionary).

Note the pattern of descent (the Semites come into Egypt following the transhumance),3 sojourn (evidence of Semitic names in Egypt), and ascent (some scant evidence of Semites leaving). It may help you to think (after Johnstone) of the historical foundations of the exodus as being a series of events, based perhaps on the yearly transhumance from the desert to the richer pastures of Egypt, which have been elevated and conflated into the one event. It seems now clear that the narrative as a whole is not historiographic (nor is its setting) and that the historicity of the exodus serves as the framework to a theological statement, which is to confess one God, who has called his people into existence, who has saved them and maintained them in existence. This existence is contingent on their obedience to Torah (see above). Activities
1. Read Thompson (1987) Chapter 1. Make sure you distinguish the issues of theology from those linked with history and with biblical archaeology. Read carefully the five arguments against historical facticity (pp.3336); for a basic outline of a history of Israel, see Thompsons five points (pp.3640). How do all these points relate to the question of the historicity of the exodus? 2. Read Johnstone (1991) Chapter 1. Write a summary of the arguments that make a historical reading problematic. 3. Question for reflection: Is history nothing but a vehicle for the affirmation of Israels myth?

Ex. 17: God remembers


Additional reading
Gunn, D. The hardening of Pharaohs heart: plot, character and theology in Ex. 114 in Clines et al. (eds) Art and meaning. (Sheffield: JDSOT Press, 1982) pp.7396.

Read the passage, noting in particular the way in which the story progresses. Considerable efforts have been made to link the patriarchal narrative of Genesis with the Egyptian sojourn of Exodus. The wider context of the exodus is set against Genesis promise of fertility, descendants and land (see Gen. 1:2630), and this provides for both continuity and discontinuity with the Genesis story. To gain a sense of the continuity between Genesis and Exodus, compare the following passages:

Gen. 46:827 with Ex. 1:15 Gen. 50:26 with Ex. 2 Gen. 50:25 with Ex. 3:16.
However, there are also elements of discontinuity. Before the exodus, story traditions were centred on individual patriarchs and clans. The book of Exodus marked a new beginning the creation of the people of Israel. From now on the texts would speak of a nation unified by faithfulness to a God who had chosen them for a special role. There were now two clear focal points: a single God and a single people linked by the thwarted promises of Genesis. The people were oppressed in a land not their own; their fertility was at stake. (See the command to kill baby boys born to the Hebrews.) Pharaohs attempt to control and contain them would have disastrous consequences. With Ex. 2:2325, the narrative takes a decisive turn: God remembered and took heed.

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In the chapters that follow, Israels oppression is presented as a matter of life and death: the people were viewed as a threat and Pharaohs thoughts turned to death until death became fully fledged state policy. At the same time, however, their liberation began with womens act of disobedience their refusal to participate in oppression (see Chapter 1): it will end with the song of Miriam and the women (in Chapter 15:21). In Ex. 2, Moses enters the narrative. It is hoped that he will live up to his name and his destiny (Moses means the one who draws out). In Ex. 3, the revelation at the burning bush marked another decisive turn in events: a theophany occurs. God appeared on the mountain, presenting himself to Moses as the God of the fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Most importantly, God disclosed to Moses the divine name: I am who I am (Ex. 3:1416). The name Yahweh, by which God revealed himself, in fact has many meanings (some scholars think that it may even be an attempt by God to dismiss Moses): he who is, or he who causes that is. When combined with the claim to be the same God whom Moses ancestors worshipped, the name may be best understood as the God who is always present [to Israel]. The name carries a sense of the mystery and the numinous power of Gods presence. This encounter highlights the theme of the promise. Not only are past promises to the fathers recalled, but a new promise, of deliverance and land, is heralded. To some extent, this disclosure of the divine name established a claim on Israel. God commissioned Moses to liberate Israel in Egypt. He was to become a living oracle. The narrative emphasises the play and counter-play between Yahweh (the god of life who wants life for his people) and Pharaoh (representing oppression and death). To command authority from the people, Moses requested and received three signs from God. 1. Moses staff was first transformed into a snake. This is intended to demonstrate the superiority of Moses God (it was a reversal of the deeds of Egyptian snake charmers who could induce snakes into hypnotic rigidity). This is a God who can make dead things live. 2. Moses hand became leprous. In the Old Testament, leprosy was the epitome of disease, which only priests could heal (Lev 13:14). 3. The Niles waters would turn into blood. The Nile was considered a deity; whoever truly controlled it would be proved the greater power. This episode of the signs given to Moses forms part of a broader theme underlying this part of Ex. 115.

The struggle against Pharaoh was taking place not just within the human sphere

but in the cosmic sphere too. It was a mighty fight for the allegiance of Israel. Who would be the victor? signs of the powerful and mighty presence of God as he set about executing his mission.

The signs given by God to Moses marked the start of that struggle: they were the
It is no wonder, then, that when Moses later showed these signs to the Israelites, the nation trusted that God had indeed come to redeem his people from their suffering (Ex. 4:31). But Moses, in true prophetic mode, had grave doubts about his worthiness for the task. His resistance was so strong that Aaron would serve him as a prophetic mouthpiece. Then, as the story follows Moses back into Egypt, further themes are introduced (Ex. 4:21b23).

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Signs were performed before Pharaoh, thus anticipating the plague cycle. The hardening of Pharaohs heart is a recurring motif throughout the next

few chapters. It is important to understand that God is the real agent behind this hardening of heart, even when Pharaoh seems to be doing it himself. In the context, the entire story describes a struggle for Israel being waged by two potential masters; this hardening of heart is expressive of power and control. Through it, Yahweh has turned the wisdom of Egypt into folly and shown that he is the only true master. (See Gunn, 1982, pp.7396.) the strange story of Ex. 4:2426. The passage anticipates the death of Pharaohs firstborn and the redemption of the Israelites.

The recurring theme of the firstborn (for example, Moses in Ex. 2) best explains
The series of negotiations that follow, between Moses and Pharaoh, concerns the permission for the Hebrews to formalise their relationship with their God. Ex. 6 legitimises the authority of Moses and Aaron by presenting their genealogy.

Ex. 711: the plagues


Recommended reading Read one of the following:
Blenkinsopp, J. The Pentateuch. (London: SCM Press, 1992) pp.13455. Thompson, T.L. The origin tradition of Ancient Israel. (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1987) pp.13342.

Moses and Aaron approached Pharaoh again to request that he let Israel go. Chapter 7s introduction predicts that Pharaoh will refuse to listen specifically because God will harden his heart (Ex. 7:3). The purpose of this display is so that the Egyptians shall know that I am Yahweh (Ex. 7:5). The plagues represent a complex narrative. By themselves, they probably did happen in ancient times as described here. In the following activity you will find examples of other OT texts in which plagues are mentioned. Activity
Read Psalms 78 and 105, in which plagues are mentioned, then compare them with Amos 4:612. Jot down the number of plagues referred to in these passages, and the order in which they occur.

The plagues do occur independently of the Exodus narrative. However, you must ask yourself what it means when they are inserted into Ex. 115. It seems that, transposed into the Exodus narrative, the plagues provide a new focus and a new climax in form of the Passover festival (note its association with the tenth plague). In other words, the Exodus is not meant to be historiographic, nor is the books highpoint the destruction of the Egyptian army in the sea (though dramatic, this is not of theological relevance). The stories of the plagues and wonders (a better rendering of the original Hebrew) are now structures on which to build dramatically toward the goal of the tenth plague the story of the killing of the Egyptian first-born. This dramatic climax allows the drama to centre on the Passover festival, in which the Israelites celebrated Gods saving protection of them, his power, and their allegiance to him. He is the God who creates, uncreates and gives life the Passover marks their origin as Gods people.

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The plagues and wonders present some problems.

There are many debates about the number of plagues and the order in which they

occur. The number 10 cannot be taken for granted, and doublets are found: for example, the gnats and the flies were perhaps originally one plague. The story of the Niles pollution clearly combines two or even three elements within the one event: the death of the fish which makes the water undrinkable, and the waters that turn to blood. increase in severity. Once the waters are polluted and undrinkable, everyone dies and this is as bad as it ever gets. Ex. 7:1 or 7:14? What about the signs in vv.813 how are they connected?

There are also problems concerning the sequence of the plagues, for there is no real Finally, there are questions about the storys boundaries. Where does it start There are also contradictions: for example, in Ex. 9:6 all the Egyptian cattle are
supposed to have been killed; yet in Ex. 9:19 the Egyptians are warned to bring in their cattle to protect them from the hail.

Theology The first nine plagues all somehow have a natural explanation, and there are at least two of these. Both are connected with the water levels of the Nile: too much and the water becomes polluted, brings in insects and, in their wake, diseases that afflict both cattle and humans. However, not enough water, and the ensuing drought upsets the whole ecological equilibrium. Consult Hyatts Commentary on Exodus (1971) pp.33645 for a summary of natural theories for the plagues. However, whether or not there were natural explanations, for an Israelite the signs and wonders were to be found not in the plagues but in Gods power in bringing about his plan. It is interesting to note that the order of the universe set out in Genesis is here deeply displaced. Creation is in the process of returning to primordial chaos. Water, which should be contained and give life, instead brings death and devastation. Locusts fly over the earth to destroy it. Cattle which should be healthy become sick and die. This goes on until, in the ninth plague, day turns to darkness, a state of the world before it was created. Summary Ex. 110 describes a cosmic battle for the exclusive rights over Israel, and the plagues and wonders provide a dramatic climax to the narrative. The plagues also serve to develop further the revelation of Gods name (I am who I am: I will show you my powers in the next few chapters). It is about control and power. The Egyptian magicians are mocked: they make things worse because they are not in control. Yahwehs power is ultimate because it is selective. Ex. 11 brings the succession of the plagues and wonders to a close by announcing the tenth and final blow (another Hebrew word for plague).

Ex. 12: the Passover

This chapter of the book stands apart and is the most solemn of the events described so far: God himself strikes, and we are dealing for the first time with the death of human beings. Israel saw in this tenth plague, the death of the first-born, Gods clear choice on behalf of his people. Israels change of allegiance (the change from their slavery under Pharaoh to their servanthood under God) is expressed in the theme of the despoiling of the Egyptians (Ex. 11:3): this incident must be understood in the context of Deut.

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15:12ff, where there is an obligation for the master of a slave to give that slave supplies at the time of release. This is a complex passage, in which we find a great deal of contradictory legal material. Activity
Compare Ex. 12:114 with 12:2128 and 12:4351. Make a list of the similarities and differences. How do you think they can be best explained?

The ritual of passage that characterises the Passover festival is one through which Israel changes her identity, declares her allegiance to God and starts history (see Ex. 12: this is the beginning of time). As a number of scholars have shown, this is the point of interplay between myth and history: the Passover is the historicisation of a myth (of the ritual, yearly passage of tribes from the wilderness to the richer pastures of Egypt), and of the mythologisation of history (this is the beginning of time for the people of Israel, where they can understand their point of origin):
Ancient Israel did not see its origin in the Exodus from Egypt, as it sees that origin in the Passover festival, expressed in story of the Exodus narrative. The traditions that compose Exodus 115 are not so much traditions about history: ancient Israel did not discover its origin in the narrative traditions of the past, and select the Passover story as central, around which its history might be built. They rather understood their existence as a people to derive essentially out of the existing Passover festival then practised and in the ongoing observance of the Torah. Praxis gave rise to doctrine, and the tradition was constructed out of many of the individual tales and lesser traditions which then existed in the popular folklore and folk history of the time, arranged to make a fundamental affirmation about their already self-identity as a nation led by God It was their understanding of themselves which led to a particular selection of traditions. (Thompson, 1987, p.195)

The broken creation, where Pharaohs forces of death and chaos reigned, is mended at one historical point in the world, celebrated and remembered as the Passover. Activities
1. Read Johnstone (1991) pp.4044, then look up the following: the regulations for unleavened bread (Ex. 12:1520; 13:310) the regulations for firstlings (Ex. 13:12, 1116). 2. Then read Johnstone (1991) pp.4447. Questions for reflection and discussion: What do these three festivals have in common? Why have they been put together? What is the theological value of each one of these festivals? And of the three festivals taken together?

Ex. 1315: creation of a chosen people


Recommended reading Read one of the following:
Blenkinsopp, J. The Pentateuch. (London: SCM Press, 1992) pp.15760. Thompson, T.L. The origin tradition of Ancient Israel. (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1987) pp.14448.

The Passover marks the end of the bondage in Egypt and a new departure for the newly created and now liberated Hebrews on their way to the promised land. The picture evoked is that of the overthrow of watery chaos, and the salvation and preservation of the people. Their response was praise and thanksgiving (see Ex. 15, especially Miriams song).

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Summary At the end of Ex. 115, Gods act of redemption (literally, the buying back of his people) is seen in the re-establishment of the created order as expressed in the Passover festival and enacted in the crossing of the Red Sea. We have moved dramatically from the theme of the fertility of the Israelite people (Chapter 1), thwarted by the peoples oppression and bondage to Pharaoh, to the making of Yahwehs community. There is a movement (to be reinforced later in Deuteronomy) from building cities for Pharaoh to building a community for God a movement from service under the yoke of oppression to service in the midst of freedom, from death to life. Activity
Make notes in response to the following questions. 1. What is the significance of the exodus event? 2. Briefly assess the historical circumstances behind the Exodus narrative. 3. What are the two common chronologies suggested for the events in the Exodus story? Briefly describe the evidence that supports both sets of dates. Which one would you favour as more probable? Why? 4. How is God depicted in the exodus? 5. Describe the role of Moses in the exodus. 6. What is the significance of the Passover narrative? 7. Compare the prose and the poetic accounts of the crossing of the Red Sea. How do they differ?

Learning outcomes
Having completed this part of the chapter, and the essential readings and activities, you should be able to: discuss the background to the exodus traditions outline the literary movements of the text.

Deuteronomy: a charter for Gods people


Essential reading
Collins, J.J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2004) Chapter 8. Clements, R.E. Deuteronomy. (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1989). Harrison, R.K Introduction to the Old Testament. (Peabody, MA: Eerdmans, 2004) pp.63562. Rendtorff, R. The canonical Hebrew Bible. (Leiden: Deo Publishing, 2005) pp.7488; 43246. Rogerson, J. Genesis 111. (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1991). Soggin, J.A. Introduction to the Old Testament. (London: SCM Press, 1989) pp.12242; 14649.

Recommended commentaries You should consult one of the commentaries listed on p.7. Those by Christiansen and Tigay are particularly recommended.

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Chapter 3: Torah

Recommended commentaries You may wish to consult some of the following materials.
Becking, B. et al. Only one god? monotheism in Ancient Israel and the veneration of the goddess Asherah. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001). Gnuse, R.K. No other gods: emergent monotheism in Israel. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997). MacDonald, N. Deuteronomy and the meaning of monotheism. (Tbingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003). Olson, D.T. Deuteronomy and the death of Moses: a theological reading. (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1994). Smith, M.S. The early history of God: Yahweh and the other deities in Ancient Israel. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002).

Recommended reading It is also recommended that you read:


Olson, D.T. Deuteronomy and the death of Moses: a theological reading. (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1994).

This is the third set of texts you are going to consider. As Gen. 111 was a reflection on the origins and identity of humankind (Who am I? How do I relate to the world, to other human beings, to animals, to God?), and Ex. 115 was the response to the question of who the Israelites were in terms of their identity as a people, Deuteronomy sets out to give directions as to how (by what rules) this created and chosen people, whom God has delivered from oppression, are to live their lives. First we will examine the literary form of the book, then turn our attention to the specific details. Literary questions According to 2 Kings 2223, the book of the law was discovered in 622 bce, during the repairs to the Jerusalem Temple. In response to this discovery, Josiah, the reigning king, gathered the people into the Temple, read the book and swore to observe everything written in it. A vast religious reform ensued throughout the kingdom. Nineteenth-century scholars established a connection between this book of the law and Deuteronomy. However one reads the story, there does seem to be an association between the book of Deuteronomy and Josiah. Read 2 Chr. 3435 for an alternative version of these events. In fact, there is no perfect match between the the book of the law found in the Temple of Jerusalem and the book of Deuteronomy as we have it. Deuteronomy is the end product of a long process of formation which lasted a few centuries. This is not the place to retrace its different stages in detail, but it is enough to distinguish two stages: in the first one let us call it a pre-Josiah phase Deuteronomy constituted an independent work and contained a collection of laws with an introduction and a conclusion, in other words most of Deut. 628. In a second stage (post-Josiah), to which Deut. 15 and 2934 belong, Deuteronomy lost its original independence and became part of a vast collection that formed the beginning or the introduction to the deuteronomistic history (see Chapter 4 of this guide) and the final stage of the Pentateuch. Thus the book of Deuteronomy serves as a crossroads, or even a bridge, between the traditions forming the tetrateuch (the first four books of Torah) and the traditions forming the deuteronomistic history. Deuteronomy remains faithful to the old traditions and yet, at the same time, adapts them, brings them up to date and makes them a part of a constantly evolving society. As such, it firmly belongs to the exilic period.

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D135 Introduction to the Old Testament

Theology From a theological perspective, five central elements play a decisive role: one God, one people, one land, one sanctuary and one law. These elements intermingle to form Deuteronomy. The oneness of God is proclaimed at the start of the book of the law in the shema (Deut. 6: 49, see below), and is implicit throughout the whole of the book. The notion of election and covenant are closely connected to this oneness. As the Israelites become Gods people, they separate themselves from the other nations, from foreign cults and practices that could jeopardise this special relationship. The land represents Gods gift to his people and, as such, it takes on an almost transcendental character. Understanding this is fundamental to understanding the deuteronomistic and prophetic traditions. Finally, the law is the expression of Gods will for his people: they must be faithful to him and observe his commandments. The essence of the law is love for God, and this love is summed up in the shema:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6 Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. 7 Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. 8 Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, 9 and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut. 6: 49, NRSV)
4

The attribution of Deuteronomy to Moses is a literary fiction, used to confer greater authority on the book. But, of course, more is intended. By associating Moses name with Deuteronomy, the redactor (the books editor) wanted to lead Israel back to its origins. The place had changed, generations have succeeded one on another, but the fundamental reality is the same: Not with your fathers did the Lord make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive, today (5:3, emphasis mine). Israel is offered a new departure with God, through obedience to his laws, thus erasing centuries of sins and rebellion. Deuteronomy recovers its Mosaic roots; Deuteronomy is, to use a phrase famously coined by von Rad, a famous German scholar, Mosaism in cultivated land. Despite the split between the north and the south of the country, or the exile, Deuteronomy is addressed to all of Israel. There is no distinction between clans and families, nor between social classes. The ideal picture presented is of everyone, from king to slave becoming brothers. Deuteronomy is very much marked by the unifying idea of the community a community made up of the chosen people of God. Israel was consecrated to God, and distinct from the other nations (Ex. 7:16). There was, however, tension between the ideal and the reality. Ideally, there should be no poor in Israel, but in reality there were many poor people (Ex. 15:4, 11). This was why laws were needed to help them (Ex. 15:7ff). The authors of Deuteronomy knew perfectly well that their society was class-ridden, but they put forward the idea of a classless society as their ideal a people of brethren. Form and composition It is possible to distinguish in Deuteronomy three components: history, paranetic (i.e. exhortation) and law. Law forms the central part of the book, both by its central position (Deut. 1225) and by its importance. The paranetic sections are to be found in the internal frames (Deut. 611, 2628), and history in its external frames (Deut. 15, 2934). The whole takes the form of preached law, to borrow another expression from von Rad.

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Chapter 3: Torah

In recent years, it has been noted that the different parts of the book form an underlying pattern, which has been recognised as shaping itself on treaty models from Hittite or Assyrian contracts between themselves and the vanquished nations. The main parts are as follows. 1. A preamble where the King/Lord gives his name and title (compare Deut. 1:1). 2. A historical prologue listing past acts of kindness to the vassal as the reasons for the vassals obedience (compare Deut. 1:24:40). 3. Stipulations or demands required by the overlord of his vassal (compare Deut. 4:4426:11). 4. Deposit of the treaty in a temple, and public reading at set times (compare Deut. 27:18). 5. A list of witnesses: and, for a solemn state covenant, the witnesses are the gods of the land. 6. Curses and blessings end the contract whereby divine beings are called upon to maintain the treaty in the divine courtroom by imposing rewards and penalties (compare Deut. 2728). Indeed, this contract or covenant, as the contract of the chosen people constitutes the basic motif recurring throughout Deuteronomy. Its fulfilment carries with it a series of responsibilities, expressed in service and obedience: If you heed these ordinances, by diligently observing them, the Lord your God will maintain with you the covenant loyalty that he swore to your ancestors (NRSV Deut. 7:12). Note that the final form of the book is couched in Moses farewell speech, his last will and testament to the people he led out of Egyptian slavery and through the wilderness experience. All this reflects one simple thing: the successive layers of redaction in the book reflect that Deuteronomy was not considered to be the deposit of a dead, closed and static doctrine. On the contrary, it was understood as living tradition, open (i.e. subject to later revisions) and dynamic. This was the law of God, to be lived as an integral part of the life of the elected.

The laws of Deuteronomy: a meaningful organisation


Recommended reading
Von Waldow, H.E. Social responsibility and social structure in early Israel (Deut. 1226), Catholic Bible Quarterly 32 1970 pp.182204.

The laws have a special orientation among the Israelites. They are a community of freed people, who experienced the all-powerful presence of God at the time of the exodus from Egypt and the presence of God during their wanderings in the wilderness. These were decisive events for the people of Israel, for its faith, for its constitution as a nation, for its acceptance of Gods words. The significance of the laws is to be found in Chapter 6:2024:
When your children ask you in time to come, What is the meaning of the decrees and the statutes and the ordinances that the LORD our God has commanded you?21 then you shall say to your children, We were Pharaohs slaves in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.22 The LORD displayed before our eyes great and awesome signs and wonders against Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his household.23 He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land that he promised on oath to our ancestors.24 Then the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our lasting good, so as to keep us alive, as is now the case. (NRSV Deu 6:20) 37

D135 Introduction to the Old Testament

The law is given in order that the people live well, in dignity and in freedom. Law is life: to fulfil the law is to protect the freedom of the people; to flout it is to compromise its state of wellbeing. This is Gods provision for a just community, and the obedience required completes Gods saving work. To present the laws in a way which is user-friendly, I shall divide them into three groups and will briefly explain the principles behind them.

Deut. 1216:17: Man face to God, the divine sphere

The attitude of the Israelite community must be one of obedience and faithfulness. 1214:21 is concerned with laws about the unity and the purity of the cult. This takes up and develops the principle (as seen above) of the oneness of the sanctuary. There is an emphasis on the centralisation of the cult and its implications for various sacrificial practices. There are, of course, questions about the location of such a centralised sanctuary, and it is implicitly understood that it is Jerusalem. More important is the theological significance of this centralisation. Faced with a multiplicity of non-Israelite altars, the central sanctuary was conceived as a measure to protect the Israelite cult (a much easier way to control it). The notion of central cult also emphasises the notion of election: it exemplifies the oneness of the people who respond to God. A single tribe the Levites were elected to fulfil cultic functions at the one sanctuary. Although the four laws in Deut. 14:2215:23 tithes, release of debts, release of slaves and the offering of the firstlings do not appear to be connected, there is an internal cohesion. They share the same theme, that of the religious and humanitarian duties that go hand in hand with the possession of the land. Israelites are called to enjoy the land and its products, but they must acknowledge that it is the Lord who gave them everything. It is an illustration of the principle according to which righteousness and benefits are aspects of the same reality. The enjoyment of the benefits of the land depends upon the peoples readiness to relinquish them. The tithe, as it is presented by Deuteronomy, contains both a call to obedience and the blessing that obedience brings. We are talking here about a theology brought into action. Now read:
Olson, D.T. Deuteronomy and the death of Moses. (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1994) [ISBN 0800626397] pp.7477.

The calendar of festivals (see below) in Deut. 16:117 brings the cultic section to a close. During these three festivals the villagers will make their trip to the central sanctuary and fulfil their sacred duties. It is important to remember that the festivals were deeply rooted in the life of the people, of which they are a manifestation. In this perspective, it is life which maintains the cult.

The Passover was originally a transhumance celebration originally made by nomadic


people. Its significance is embedded in the remembrance of the Israelites liberation from Egypt. The related Christian festival is Easter.

The Feast of Weeks or harvest took place seven weeks from the time the sickle is The Feast of Booths or ingathering was celebrated in autumn, when all harvesting
was completed and food stocks were stored for the winter. The related Christian festival is Harvest. Now read:

first put to the standing grain (16:9). The grain harvest celebrated the conclusion of harvest with a meal of gratitude. The related Christian festival is Pentecost.

Olson, D.T. Deuteronomy and the death of Moses. (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1994) [ISBN 0800626397] pp.77ff. 38

Chapter 3: Torah

Summary In its insistence of the theme of the enjoyment of the land, the law on festivals is akin to that on tithes: it is rooted in the gratitude of the people for the gift of the land. The pilgrims bring their offering according to the blessing received from Yahweh. Generosity was exercised both towards the Lord and the needy.

Deut. 16:1818:22: political and judicial power; a constitution for Israel

How can I bear your problems and your burdens and your disputes all by myself? This question, raised at the beginning of the book, by Moses, poses the fundamental problem of institutional organisation of government and the necessity to delegate power. According to Deuteronomy, state authority should not be concentrated in a single person. The laws concerning the role of the prophet, and his function forms the climax of this section. The prophet occupied the highest place, above all other political and religious offices.

This section is the only place where the office of king is dealt with in biblical law (Deut. 17:1420). It sets out a constitutional monarchy in which, under the rule of God (the ultimate monarch), the kings power was very limited submission to Gods law was the great equaliser. It must be said that on the matter of kingship, Israel stood out from the other nations of the Ancient Near East. The laws concerning the role of the judges were based on the joining together of two independent traditions: a system of sacral-judicial authority connected with the sanctuary, where the priests acted as judges; and a civil judiciary where the court was made up of elders and judges. The function of these conjoined traditions was to administer justice. The status of the Levites, the members of the tribe of Levi, provided them with the right to share in the proceeds of offerings made at the altar: this constituted their share in Israels inheritance of Israel (Deut. 18:18). The relationship of the Levites to Israel was intended as an ideal representation of how the whole of the people should stand in relation to the Lord and to the land. The Levite was meant to be prosperous, yet his prosperity was realised in dependence. Activity
Read Olson (1994) pp.8086. How would you describe the political constitution of Israel as described in Deuteronomy?

Deut. 1925: mankind in the life of the community; the human sphere

The rights of God over humankind are not limited to the sphere of the religious ritual: they encompassed every aspect of peoples lives. These chapters of Deuteronomy develop the basic accusations set out by the prophets Hosea 4:2 and Jeremiah 7:9 in his famous temple sermon, that the people were guilty of swearing, lying, killing, stealing and committing adultery. These accusations prefigure, in a loose way, the Ten Commandments found in a fixed form in Deut. 5, which attempted to protect Israelite society from transgressions against life, marriage/family relationships, property and truth. Deut. 1921 (the life principle) treats the problems caused by homicide from different angles. In Deut. 19:113 and 21:119 we have two different types of homicide the case of the known killer, and that of the unknown killer. Within this section we also find legislation regarding cities of refuge. Its main purpose is to limit the rights of

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D135 Introduction to the Old Testament

blood revenge and, incidentally, to protect the innocent. Theologically what is being highlighted here is the sacred value of life as a gift of God. These laws also emphasise the sacred character of the land innocent blood would sully the earth. Finally, we will take a brief look at Deut. 20, the only biblical code on military laws in the OT. These relate to the behaviour of the levied, citizen army. Although the ideal of Deuteronomy, as expressed by the metaphor of conquest (remember, this is a text read during exile), insists on complete extermination of all the inhabitants of the land nothing should remain to lead Israel astray the laws are humanitarian in essence: for example, the laws regarding the female war captive with their unusual degree of protection vis--vis married women (Deut. 21:1014); or the law regarding fruit trees which demonstrates a certain concern about the vandalism of war (leaving sources of food for the survivors of war) at the end of the chapter. Activity
Read Deut. 20:59 and vv.1920. Think of our contemporary society and about the wars raging in the world at present. Have these military laws something to teach us? Explain in your own words.

The truth principle (Deut. 19:1521) prescribes a rule of judicial review in cases of suspect testimony. Since the burden of proof lay with the accused, the influence of witness was paramount in the final verdict. Hence the severe punishment for false testimony. The cases presented regarding marriage and relationships (Deut. 22:1321) all have one common denominator, that of prohibited relationships. See, for example, vv.1321 (on premarital unchastity), and vv.2229 (on illicit sexual intimacy). Theologically the laws on family are concerned with the purity of individual members of the Israelite community. This was based on the necessity to live an orderly life that reflected the order instituted by creation. It is only in keeping the law in every aspect of life that the people expressed their oneness to God. Of course, many of the laws expressed by Deuteronomy are outrageous by our standards, which is why it is so important to highlight the principles underlying them. It is even more important to realise that Deuteronomy is not meant to be frozen in time and everlasting. The book was a response to a specific cultural background, rooted in the exilic situation. It was written in a state of flux, for a time of change. Deut. 2325 relates to the commandment not to steal, and, more precisely, to areas concerning property. These laws cover many topics from escaped slaves to weights and measures. Underlying the legislation protecting property is the idea that all property comes from God and as such should be respected. Righteous behaviour reflects the peoples obedience and forms their practical response to their salvation by God. Activity
Read Olson (1994) pp.88115, then make notes summarising the main points.

Deut. 26: the key

After the vast collection of laws in Deut. 1225 comes a double ceremony designed to integrate individual Israelites into the symbolic life of the community. The first part (Deut. 26:111) is a liturgy for the presentation of first-fruits, whereby a symbolic portion of the farmers grain was brought to the sanctuary as an offering of thanksgiving. At the centre of this liturgy, paramount to our understanding of the whole book, you will find what von Rad identifies as the historical creed, in which the emphasis is on what God has done for Israel:

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Chapter 3: Torah 5 you shall make this response before the Lord your God: A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. 6 When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labour on us, 7 we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. 8 The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; 9 and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me. You shall set it down before the Lord your God and bow down before the Lord your God. (Deut. 26:510, NRSV)

The second part of the ceremony (Deut. 26:1215) concerns the tithe for the Levite and the needy: the gift of the offering expresses the gratitude of the whole of Israel towards their beneficent God. The emphasis is now on the peoples response: the vertical relationship with God intersects with the horizontal relationship within the community. Worship of God goes hand in hand with social practice the two are intimately connected. The conclusion of the section (Deut. 26:1719) is a covenant formula. The terms of the contract between God and his people have been spelled out: I will be your God and you will be my people. This constant theme of obedience to God has a wider meaning: Yahweh, God of life and the only giver of blessings, wants Israel to share in that life today. Activity
Read Olson (1994) pp.115ff. What is the main focus of Deut. 26?

Deut. 5:621: the decalogue

The decalogue (the Ten Commandments) was given to Moses on Mount Horeb, symbolically a place where heaven and earth meet. In its essence, the decalogue encompasses the whole of Israelite legislation, and attempts to embrace the whole life of Gods people. They can be divided into three parts. 1. The first part concerns the life of the community under the worship of one God:
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; 7you shall have no other gods before me. 8You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 9You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me, 10but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. 11You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. (Deut. 5:611, NRSV)
6

God is one and cannot be manipulated. His love is a gift. It is not a case of earning divine favour but of living into his power. 2. The second part concerns how that community life was organised in terms of how they spent their time:
Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13For six days you shall labour and do all your work. 14But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work you, or your son or your daughter, or your male or female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns, so that your male and female slave may rest as well as you. 15 Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your
12

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D135 Introduction to the Old Testament God commanded you to keep the sabbath day. 16Honour your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, so that your days may be long and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. (Deut. 5:1216 NRSV)

These are the only two positive commandments. The life of the people is ordered, organised along a certain rhythm. It translates the continuity of the existence of the people in the succession of Sabbaths. Along with the fifth commandment, these commandments carry with them the succession of generations. 3. The last five commandments guarantee life, family, marriage, property and social righteousness:
You shall not murder. Neither shall you commit adultery. 19 Neither shall you steal. 20 Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbour. 21 Neither shall you covet your neighbours wife. Neither shall you desire your neighbours house, or field, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour. (Deut. 5:1721)
17 18

See above for the theological principles. Activity


Read Olson (1994) Chapter 3. Write down the points outlined in this chapter concerning the Ten Commandments.

Summary The exodus as the expression of Gods act of salvation gives meaning to the commandments, providing Israels reason for obeying them. God saved Israel from her Egyptian oppressors. The peoples gratitude for this redeeming act extends to their actions, and their obedience to his laws is their response. Ethics are born out of liberation and freedom.

Learning outcomes
Having completed this chapter, and the Essential readings and activities, you should be able to: outline the main elements of the book of Deuteronomy discuss the literary questions associated with that book describe the message of the book of Deuteronomy.

Sample examination questions


1. What is the most useful framework in order to understand Deuteronomy? 2. Deuteronomy is a preached law, in that it is theologically centred, humanly adaptable, socially transformative and communally oriented (Olson, 1994, p.11). Discuss. 3. What ideas about social justice can you glean in Deuteronomy?

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Chapter 4: The deuteronomistic history and 1 and 2 Kings

Chapter 4

The deuteronomistic history and 1 and 2 Kings


Essential reading
Collins, J.J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2004) Chapters 13 and 14, pp.1886. Harrison, R.K Introduction to the Old Testament. (Peabody, MA: Eerdmans, 2004) pp.71938. Noth, M. The deuteronomistic history. (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1991). Rendtorff, R. The canonical Hebrew Bible. (Leiden: Deo Publishing, 2005) pp.11656. Soggin, J.A. Introduction to the Old Testament. (London: SCM Press, 1989) pp.22436

You may also wish to consult some of the commentaries listed on page 7. One recommended commentary is:
Barton, J. and J. Muddiman (eds) The Oxford Bible commentary. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

Further reading

For more details on 1 and 2 Kings you should consult one of the following:
Auld, G. Kings. (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 1986). Campbell, A.F. Of prophets and kings. (Washington DC: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1986). Long, B.O. 1 Kings: with an introduction to historical literature. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1984). McKenzie, Steven L. The trouble with Kings. (Leiden: Brill, 1991). Nelson, R. First and Second Kings. (Westminster: John Knox, 1987).

For the deuteronomistic history, choose one of the following:


Brueggeman, W. The kerygma of the deuteronomistic historian, Interpretation 1968 pp.387402. *Campbell, A.F. Of prophets and kings. (Washington DC: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1986). de Pury, A., T Rmer and J. Macchi (eds) Israel constructs its history: deuteronomistic historiography in recent research. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000). Knoppers, G.N. and J.G. McConville (eds.) Reconsidering Israel and Judah: recent studies on the deuteronomistic history. (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2000). Long, B.O. 1 Kings: with an introduction to historical literature. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1984). Nelson, R. First and Second Kings. (Westminster: John Knox, 1987). Mayes, A.D.H. The story of Israel between settlement and exile. (London: SCM Press, 1983). McKenzie, S.L. The trouble with Kings. (Leiden: Brill, 1991). McKenzie, S.L. and M.P. Graham (eds) The history of Israels traditions: the heritage of Martin Noth. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994). Rmer, T.C. The so-called deuteronomistic history: a sociological, historical and literary introduction. (London; New York, T & T Clark, 2005.)

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D135 Introduction to the Old Testament Weinfeld, M. Deuteronomy and the deuteronomic school. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983). Whitelam, K.W. Israelite kingship: the royal ideology and its opponents in R.E. Clements (ed.) The world of Ancient Israel: sociological, anthropological and political perspectives. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989) Chapter 6. Wolff, H.W. The kerygma of the deuteronomic historical work in W. Brueggemann and H.W. Wolff (eds) The vitality of Old Testament traditions. (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1975).

Introduction

Your reading so far should have given you a good grasp of the context of the Hebrew Bible. Our study of Torah in Chapter 3 has shown that the text was striving to establish traditions created at the time of the exile. The part of the Hebrew Bible with which we are now dealing is traditionally attributed to the former prophets as they are called in the Jewish tradition. Here you will be introduced to a thesis that is widely accepted in some form or other in modern scholarship, which proposes that the section of the OT from Joshua to 2 Kings forms part of a connected work whose narrative encompasses the Israelites establishment in the land right up until the loss of that land, in the sixth century bce, to the neoBabylonian empire. This thesis is known as the deuteronomistic history. 1 and 2 Kings is, of course, part of that history, and must first be looked at within that wider context before we can look more closely at the books themselves and raise further questions about their literary character and the more immediate context surrounding them. The thesis of the deuteronomistic history was proposed in 1943 by a German scholar, Martin Noth. His views have been much qualified in subsequent discussion; however, you should have a good grasp of Noths thesis before going on to evaluate the ways in which it has been qualified.

Deuteronomistic history: the theory


Recommended reading Either:
Campbell, A.F. Of Prophets and Kings. (Washington DC: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1986)

or:
Weinfeld, M. Deuteronomy and the deuteronomic school. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983).

Although the material in Joshua to 2 Kings shows a great deal of variety and diversity, scholars have detected in parts of these books (and particularly in 1 and 2 Kings) common language and ideas. They concluded that the books had been edited after their composition by a deuteronomic hand. This commoness of language and ideas goes back to Deuteronomy and to the deuteronomic tradition that lies behind that book. It is important that you become familiar with these ideas. Both the lengthy index in Weinfeld and the shorter summary in Campbell are helpful. We are dealing with words or phrases that are characteristic of deuteronomic thinking and theology. The central ideas of this theology are as follows:

abhorrence of apostasy insistence on exclusive fidelity to Yahweh the experience of Yahweh in the great theological moments of the exodus, covenant
and election

the trustworthy fidelity of Yahweh expressed in possession of the land and in the
promise made to David

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Chapter 4: The deuteronomistic history and 1 and 2 Kings

centralisation of sacrificial worship in Jerusalem response to Yahwehs fidelity through observance to the law and loyalty to
the covenant. Almost all scholars relate this tradition in some fashion to the reform movement under King Josiah (2 Kings 2223). The finding of the book of the law in that text has become a focal point of modern scholarship. That book has been identified with some form of the book of Deuteronomy, and regarded as either the basis or the consequence of Josiahs reform.
Before introducing Martin Noths thesis, one final note on language. I use the adjective deuteronomic to refer to what pertains to the book of Deuteronomy and its traditions. I restrict the more cumbersome deuteronomistic to refer to the historical work.

Martin Noths thesis

The notes below offer a summary of Martin Noths thesis but you may want to read his thesis as presented by himself:
Noth, M. The deuteronomistic history. (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1991).

You will find sketch reviews of Noths theory and those of his successors in either:
Ackroyd, P. Exile and restoration. (London: SCM Press, 1968) pp.6283

or:
Hayes, J.M. and J.M. Miller Israelite and Judaean history. (London: British Museum Press, 1977) pp.21721.

Noth argues that what we are looking at is not the deuteronomic editing of books that had already been written, but the creation of one unified work extending from Deuteronomy to the end of 2 Kings. The deuteronomistic historian was an author/ redactor, living in Palestine after the fall of Jerusalem in 587 bce, who brought material from highly varied traditions and arranged it according to a carefully conceived plan. The purpose of his work of history was to explain the exile. You will appreciate Noths thesis better if you remind yourself of what you learned earlier in your study of the geography and history of this SyriaCanaan land corridor. What did that history and geography suggest would be the fate of these hill kingdoms in the period of the great empires? First, the northern kingdom of Samaria, during the period of the Assyrian empire, and then Judah in Babylon suffered political, economic and military disaster. Deportation was part of the strategy of these empires for controlling their subject kingdoms. The shaping of much of the Bible was a response to the situation of disaster and exile. This was not just military and political disaster, but theological disaster, too. It called into question Israels traditions of its election by God and Gods promises to her. As a result, there was a turning back to those traditions, searching for light on the new situation, while, at the same time, that situation was reshaping those traditions. This was part of the effort to make sense of both the new reality and Israels tradition or vision of who it was. The deuteronomistic history formed part of that response.

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The ideology of the deuteronomistic work


2 Kings 17 2 Kings 24.

How does the deuteronomistic historian explain the situation? Read the theological evaluation of both stages of the disaster in:

The situation was brought about as Yahwehs response to Israels infidelity. According to Noth, some form of the book of Deuteronomy, supplied with a new framework, is placed as the introduction to the work, functioning both as an introduction and as a standard against which everything else in the book was judged. The recapitulation of the journey from Horeb (Sinai) to the borders of the promised land (2 Kings 13) uses a model of the consequences of disobedience and the consequences of obedience. After the covenant on the plains of Moab (Deut. 29), the focus is, on the one hand, on the law as witness, and, on the other hand, on Israel being faced with a choice. Thus the history of Israel, from Horeb to the loss of the land, is evaluated theologically in terms of fidelity or infidelity to the covenant and to the deuteronomic law that prefaces the work. A cameo of these ideas can be gained by studying the depiction of King Josiahs reign. Deuteronomistic history, and therefore 1 and 2 Kings, is highly schematic and theological in intent. A good example is the evaluation of the kings of Samaria and Judah during the period of the divided monarchy after 1 Kings 12. These are to be found in the introductory and concluding framework to each reign. At the same time, it is well to remember that in the deuteronomistic work (including 1 and 2 Kings) we do have an attempt to present Israels past and to explain her present situation in terms of the salient ideas of the authors own culture.

Structural organisation of the whole deuteronomistic history

The structural organisation of the work relates to the watersheds in the history which are being recounted here: the death of Joshua and his generation; the establishment of the monarchy; the founding of the Temple. Noth identified seven key speeches or summaries which are the vital structuring elements in the work: Joshua 1, 12 and 23; Judges 2:63:6; 1 Samuel 12; 1 Kings 8; 2 Kings 720.
Read the whole of 1 and 2 Kings, making notes on the deuteronomic language and ideas.

Activity

Noth argues for a block method of construction. The material is paranetic in nature (i.e. we have blocks of material lying side-by-side), and the key structuring passages have a two-way perspective that looks back over the history that has been narrated and forward to what is to follow. Activity
Read 1 Kings 8 and 2 Kings 17:720. Work out how each passage demonstrates the double perspective described above.

Note that there are no clear-cut divisions between the books that constitute the deuteronomistic history. If we concentrate on 1 and 2 Kings, the struggle over the succession to David begins in 2 Samuel and is not completed until 2 Kings 12 with Davids death and Solomons accession. In a similar fashion, the reign of Ahaziah begins in 1 Kings 22 and is not completed until 2 Kings 1:18.

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Chapter 4: The deuteronomistic history and 1 and 2 Kings

Assessment of Noths thesis


I would recommended one of the following:
Brueggeman, W. The kerygma of the deuteronomistic historian, Interpretation (1968) pp.387402. Mayes, A.D.H. The story of Israel between settlement and exile. (London: SCM Press, 1983). McKenzie, S.L. The trouble with Kings. (Leiden: Brill, 1991). McKenzie, S.L. and M.P. Graham (eds) The history of Israels traditions: the heritage of Martin Noth. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994) Wolff, H.W. The kerygma of the deuteronomic historical work in Brueggemann, W. and H.W. Wolff (eds) The vitality of Old Testament traditions. (Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1975) Chapter 5, pp.83100.

No one nowadays denies that Deuteronomy2 Kings is a literary unity, although there have been many adjustments to Noths thesis. A vast literature has probed the thesis, and it could be said with McKenzie et al. (1994) that scholarship as a whole has strayed from Noths reconstruction in just about every respect except the basic existence of the history. The thesis has been much qualified. What remains is the emphasis on the creation of a new work as opposed to a deuteronomic editing of already existing books. Your task is not to decide between competing views, but to see what is at issue in each case. The issue, and what scholars will endeavour to do, is to try to account for both the unity of the work and its diversity. See the test case of the story of Solomon below. Activity
Using the previous recommended reading in this chapter, write down your own summary of the various views on the composition of the deuteronomistic historian.

Introduction to 1 and 2 Kings


Read one of the following:
Auld, G. Kings. (Edinburgh: Saint Andrews Press, 1986). Long, B.O. 1 Kings: with an introduction to historial literature. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1984). Long, B.O. 2 Kings. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1991). Provan, I.W. 1 and 2 Kings. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997).

1 and 2 Kings give an account of the period from Davids death to the fall of the southern kingdom of Judah in 586 bce to the neo-Babylonian empire. The books could also be said to tell the story of Davids dynasty, which takes place within the larger framework of international and internal politics of Samaria and Judah. Other things to note are the rise and flourishing of prophecy and the theological assessment of all that happened during these four centuries. Here is an outline of the contents of 1 and 2 Kings: 1 Kings 12 1 Kings 311 1 Kings 1216 1 Kings 17 2 Kings 8 2 Kings 917 2 Kings 1825 The end of the so-called succession narrative and Davids death. Solomon wins the kingship. The reign of Solomon. The early days of the divided monarchy. The prophetic stories of Elijah and Elisha. The history of the divided monarchy up to the fall of Samaria. The history of Judah from the end of the northern kingdom to the exile in Babylon and the fall of Jerusalem in 586 bce. Much of 1 and 2 Kings is devoted to the reign of individual monarchs.

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D135 Introduction to the Old Testament

Read, for instance:

1 Kings 15:3334 (the opening formula to the reign of a king), then 1 Kings 16:6 (the concluding formula).
In between the formulas, the narrator includes some significant event of the reign. Above all, each individual king is judged on whether or not they have been faithful to Yahweh. Note that none of the kings in the north find favour in Gods sight. This reflects the perspective of Judah, which interpreted the separation of the northern tribes after Solomons death as the beginning of idolatry and the rejection of Yahweh. Read the summary statement of this viewpoint in 2 Kings 17. Theology and the fulfilment of prophecy Now read 1 Kings 172 Kings 9. These are the stories of Elijah and Elisha. Note how they are void of the moral judgment normally attributed to kings. The important thing to realise is that the two prophets are to carry on the role of Moses (see parallel stories in Ex. 14, 34; Num. 11). This understanding fits well with the theology of the books. The message is that infidelity to Gods covenant given through Moses will lead to disaster and destruction. The authors understood that God had spoken words of both blessing and curses through the mouths of the prophets, but that the people did not pay any heed to the warnings. The books of Kings are filled with prophets, from Ahijah in the days of Solomon (1 Kings 14), through Micaiah ben Imlah who lived at the time of Elijah (1 Kings 22), to Hulda (2 Kings 22), a prophetess under King Josiah. 2 Kings 17: 2425 The fall of the northern kingdom None of the kings of Israel (or northern kingdom) are assessed positively by the deuteronomistic historian. This reflects the judgment of the authors who wrote later from the perspective of Judah. The main interpretation given to the events leading to the fall of Samaria and of the northern kingdom to the Assyrians focuses on the failure to keep the first commandment (the monotheistic statement). Disloyalty to the one God is understood to be the main cause of the fall to Assyria. The summary of this viewpoint can be found in 2 Kings 17. The following verses follow a pattern, typical to deuteronomistic ideology:

rejection of God through idolatry (vv.717) the consequence is the wrath of God against his people and his judgment leading to

the fall of Samaria (v.18), the subsequent exile of its population and resettlement of the country with new settlers.

The fall of the southern kingdom This is recalled in 2 Kings 2425. Babylon has replaced Assyria as the main international political power. Its leader is named in 2 Kings 24:1 as King Nebudhadnezzar of Babylon. Jehoiachin, king of Judah, submitted to him and Zedekiah was left in place. His lack of political acumen quickly led to the fall and destruction of the temple and Jerusalem. Read the deuteronomistic note in Chapter 24:3. The events leading to such a political disaster have their roots in the sin of the past. It can be said that this theological reflection has a didactic function: to interpret the present by reference to the past, and to help people understand why such a thing happened to them, thus building hope for the future.

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Chapter 4: The deuteronomistic history and 1 and 2 Kings

Learning outcomes
Having completed this chapter, and the Essential readings and activities, you should be able to: outline Noths thesis, define and identify deuteronomistic ideology describe the shape and structure of the deuteronomistic history.

Sample examination questions


1. Which term better describes the work constituted by 1 and 2 Kings: history, fiction, theology? 2. Assess the causes of either the fall of Samaria or the fall of Judah according to 2 Kings.

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Notes

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