The Reform of King Josiah and the Composition of the Deuteronomistic History.

Author:Halpern, Baruch

By ERIK EYNIKEL, Oudtestamentische Studien, 33. Leiden: E. J. BRILL, 1996. Pp. xix + 411. HF1 175, $113.

The great glory of the source-critical analysis of the Pentateuch, as ratified in the mid-nineteenth century, is its resolution of serious literary questions, while accounting for the ubiquity of parallel narratives (doublets) in that work. The analyses that command most assent are those that produce continuous "original" narratives. Tracing the doublets through their continuity within sources enabled scholars to isolate the distinctive usage, and ideas, of each source. This furnished a basis for cultural (i.e., theological) history.

The case for cultural evolution was always less secure than its source-critical basis. And assent to the source hypothesis has not been universal; nor can scholars agree on the assignment even of every chapter. Still, the mature edifice of source criticism, one hundred and fifty years old, is about as solid as any metaphilological achievement in biblical criticism. Outside the Pentateuch and 1 Samuel, however, biblical literature is not characterized by doublets. Here, starting in the nineteenth century, scholars have attempted a "history of redaction," to recover putatively "original" texts. Without the control offered by doublets, scholars stratify their texts based on: 1) ideology, often a circular criterion - so, Wellhausen identified a "promonarchic" and an "antimonarchic" source in 1 Samuel 8-15, from which it followed that materials "favorable" to a king belonged to the former; 2) diction, a treacherous, sometimes circular criterion, since two authors might use the same word to signal a single idea, or, worse, a single author might use different phrasing for different ideas; and, most often, 3) literary "inconsistencies": many of these are susceptible to synchronic explanation, and others are not relieved by redaction history, unless one supposes the editor to have been ham-fisted. Thus, Josiah's purge in 2 Kgs 23:4-20, because it interrupts the sequence from the contraction of the new covenant (23:1-3) to the celebration of Passover (23:21-23), is said to be added. Yet Eynikel would have been satisfied with the narrative logic had the "insertion" followed the Passover. So was the editor not as clever as the analyst, or did an original author have a different sense of narrative?

Dissent as to literary prehistory has been less widespread in the Deuteronomistic History (DtrH, Deuteronomy and the Former...

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