Literary and historical problems in the Book of Deuteronomy

Nicholson, Ernest Wilson (1964) Literary and historical problems in the Book of Deuteronomy. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The main problem dealt with in this thesis is the twofold problem of the provenance of Deuteronomy and the date of its composition. But any attempt to decide the answer to this question of necessity involves the study of several problems of both a literary and historical nature, he have first of all to decide what we mean by Deuteronomy for it is almost unanimously agreed by Old Testament scholars that the present book is the final product of a long growth beginning with the so-called Urdeuteronomium and developing into the book in its present dimensions. Our first chapter is therefore concerned with the problem of determining what sections of the present book belonged to the original book, Ur-Deuteronomy, and which parts are later additions, We conclude that the book of Deuteronomy in its original form consisted of substantially chapters v-xxvi and xxviii of the present book. In the second chapter we proceed to examine the relationship between Ur-Deuteronomy and the law book which, according to 2 Kings xxii, was discovered in the Jerusalem Temple in the eighteenth year of Josiah (621 B.C.). In this chapter vie survey the scholarly debate to which this problem has given rise during the past generation or so and we conclude that in spite of the vigorous opposition of such scholars as Holscher, Kennett, Horst and Pedersen, the conventional theory, first formulated by W.M.L.Dewette in 1805, which equates Ur-Deuteronomy with Josiah's law book is the most reasonable solution to this problem, This conclusion is of great significance in dating the composition of Ur-Deuteronomy since it fixes the the terminus ad quem for this in the year 621 B.C. when the book was discovered in Jerusalem. The third chapter attempts to fix the terminus a quo for the composition of the book. Here we conclude that the legislation in Deuteronomy belongs to a more advanced period in Israel's history than that in the Book of the Covenant (ca. 800 B.C.). In particular we argue that the doctrine of the centralisation of the cult has its origin in the reign of Hezekiah and that it is therefore reasonable to infer that the Deuteronomic demand for centralisation is later than the reign of that king, that is, after about 700 B.C. On the basis of our investigation thus far we conclude that Ur-Deuteronomy was written sometime between 700 B.C. and 621 B.C. and we suggest, following the opinionof many Old Testament scholars, that the reign of Manasseh is the likely period of its composition. The second part of the thesis, chapters IV-VI, is concerned with the problem of the authorship and origin of Deuteronomy. In chapter IV we outline the nature of Deuteronomy and the traditions upon which it is based. Following the work of many recent scholars, we decide that Deuteronomy is based upon the old amphictyonic sacral traditions of early Israel. In chapter V we survey the currently favoured theory which holds that Deuteronomy originated in Northern Israel where, it is maintained, these old traditions were preserved and transmitted down through the centuries. We agree with the advocates of this theory that there are strong connections between Deuteronomy and north Israelite traditions, particularly the E document of the Pentateuch and Hosea, But we argue that the old traditions underlying Deuteronomy were also preserved in Judah and in chapter VI we attempt to show that Deuteronomy originated in a circle composed of both northern and southern prophets who combined and worked in Judah in the 7th century B.C. and who composed Deuteronomy as a programme of reform and revival during the dark days of Manasseh's reign when the pure Yahwistic faith was all hut eclipsed by the paganism so widespread in those days. In the course of our investigation several other problems are raised which are of incidental importance in the discussion of the problems on hand. With these I have dealt in additional notes, the first, after chapter II, deals briefly with the problem of the Deuteronomistic sections in Jeremiah, The second, appended to chapter III, deals with the problem, of Sennacherib's invasion of Judah in 701 B.C. This is of some importance in our discussion of the origin of the centralisation of the cult. The third additional note, after chapter IV, is concerned with the important question of the relationship between the Exodus-conquest traditions of the Hexateuch and the Sinai traditions and their cultic Sitz im Leben in early Israel. The fourth note, after chapter V, deals with the recent trend in Old Testament studies which seeks to find the origin of so much of the literature of the Old Testament in cultic liturgies. Finally, we have appended to chapter VI a long additional note on the problem of the which is of importance in Gerhard von Rad's currently popular theory of the origin of Deuteronomy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Biblical studies
Date of Award: 1964
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1964-73757
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2019 08:56
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2019 08:56

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