Below is an extended excerpt of the definition of the Deuteronomistic History as found in the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary:
DEUTERONOMISTIC HISTORY. The name commonly used to designate the book of Deuteronomy as well as the section of the Hebrew Bible known as the Former Prophets, i.e., Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, and 1-2 Kings. The name reflects the scholarly theory that these books comprise a single literary unit alongside the other two great historical works in the Hebrew Bible—the Tetrateuch (Genesis through Numbers) and the Chronicles complex (1-2 Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah). According to this theory, a later editor shifted the notice of Moses’ death from its original position at the end of Numbers to its present location at the end of Deuteronomy (chapter 34) in order to group the first five books of the Hebrew Bible into the Torah or Pentateuch.
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B. Origin of the Theory
The theory of the DH originated with the publication of M. Noth’s Überlieferungsgeschichtliche Studien in 1943 (hereafter NDH). Previous treatments of the Former Prophets can be described in two broad categories (see Radjawane 1973: 178–80; Nicholson’s introduction to NDH; and Mayes 1983: 1–3). One approach continued to apply to these books the same kind of source criticism used in analyzing the Pentateuch (Eissfeldt 1965: 241–48; Fohrer 1968: 193). This was particularly true for Joshua. Another perspective tended to view the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings as independent units that had passed through one or more Deuteronomistic redactions (Pfeiffer 1948: 293–412; Fohrer 1968: 193–95; Driver 1972: 103–203). Noth, in contrast, argued that the material in Deuteronomy and the Former Prophets was a unified history of Israel written by a single, exilic author/compiler. Noth named this writer the Deuteronomist (Dtr).
Noth pointed to the similar language and ideology exhibited throughout the DH as evidence of an individual hand. According to Noth, this individual, the Dtr, composed the first history of Israel on the basis of traditions which he had collected. The Dtr selected those traditions that were appropriate for his purposes and unified them by means of a common structure and chronology. He divided the history of Israel into four major periods: the time of Moses, the settlement of Canaan under Joshua, the period of the judges, and the era of the monarchy. The Dtr’s use of the traditions before him was basically conservative. However, he did make changes where necessary in order to introduce his own theological view of Israel’s history. He also formulated speeches for the main characters and inserted them at key junctures in his account in accordance with his periodic division of Israel’s history. So, for example, Joshua’s speeches in Joshua 1 and 23 initiate and conclude, respectively, the time of the settlement. Samuel’s speech in 1 Samuel 12 stands at the point of transition between the era of the judges and that of the monarchy, while Solomon’s prayer in 1 Kings 8 highlights the dedication of the Temple and closes the first part of the monarchy. Other Deuteronomistic compositions are in narrative form (Joshua 12; Judg 2:11–22; 2 Kgs 17:7–18, 20–23). The Dtr introduced his history with the old Deuteronomic law code (4:44–30:20 minus additions) for which he constructed a new framework (Deuteronomy 1–3 plus original parts of chap. 4 and 31:1–13 plus original parts of chap. 34). Hence, all of the book of Deuteronomy took on the appearance of a speech of Moses.
Noth dated the DH to the middle of the 6th century b.c.e., shortly after 562, the date of Jehoiachin’s release from prison, the final event recounted in the DH (2 Kgs 25:27–30). Noth found no evidence to indicate that the materials in the DH had been redacted earlier. The Dtr addressed his contemporaries in Babylonian exile, his purpose being entirely negative: to show them that their sufferings were the fully deserved consequences of centuries of decline in Israel’s loyalty to Yahweh. This loyalty was measured in terms of Israel’s obedience to the Deuteronomic law. Since Israel and Judah had failed to follow that law, their histories had ended in complete destruction, in accordance with the divine judgment envisaged by Deuteronomy. There was not the slightest glimmer of hope for the future. The clearest illustration of the finality of God’s punishment in the DH was Solomon’s prayer in 1 Kings 8. The Dtr had Solomon ask Yahweh to hear the prayers of the exiles and to forgive their past misdeeds. But there was no hint of any expectation of the nation’s restoration. Similarly, the report of Jehoiachin’s release in 2 Kgs 25:27–30 was the result of the Dtr’s conscientious reporting of historical fact and was not intended to herald the commencement of a new age for Judah and Israel.
C. The DH and Subsequent Scholarship
1. Unity and Structure. The main point of Noth’s monograph, that Deuteronomy-Kings represents an original literary unit, gained wide acceptance almost immediately (for early reactions to Noth’s views, see Radjawane 1973: 186–210). Noth was not the only scholar to conclude that Genesis-Numbers and Deuteronomy-Kings represented two originally distinct literary units. Y. Kaufmann (RI, 205–11) and I. Engnell (1969: 58–67) each arrived at this position independently (cf. also Jepsen under 3.b. below). However, it was Noth’s volume that established this view in the field of biblical studies. The acceptance of this viewpoint has continued such that, to the extent that any position in biblical studies can be regarded as the consensus viewpoint, the existence of the DH has achieved almost canonical status. However, other approaches continue to be proposed (see Radjawane 1973; Mayes 1983: 14–19). D. N. Freedman, for example (IDBSup, 226–28), links his treatment of the DH to the Tetrateuch, viewing both as parts of a larger “Primary History” (compare Peckham’s view under 3.c. below). However, Freedman has not put forth this view in detail, and theories such as his have not found a wide following (but see Gunn 1987: 32).
Noth’s sketch of the way in which the Dtr structured his history has been corroborated and reinforced by subsequent studies. D. McCarthy (1965) and F. M. Cross (CMHE, 241–64) have shown that 2 Samuel 7 should be added to Noth’s list of passages that form the Deuteronomistic framework of the DH. McCarthy (1974) has also discussed the significance of the “wrath of God” as a theme in certain of the framework texts. W. Lemke (1976) suggested 1 Kings 13 as another candidate for the series of structural passages. Lemke’s arguments for Deuteronomistic revision in 1 Kings 13, especially vv 1–10, are convincing. However, since that chapter is still dominated by a northern, prophetic legend concerning a “man of God,” it should not be viewed as a framework passage in the same sense as 2 Samuel 7 and those listed by Noth (Cross, CMHE, 279–80; McKenzie 1985b: 206–9).
2. Purpose. Perhaps the weakest aspect of Noth’s theory, and the one that provoked the most criticism initially, was his view of the purpose of the DH. In a 1947 article on the theology of history in the DH, von Rad traced a theme of “grace” through the DH that provided a balance to the theme of judgment delineated by Noth. Von Rad showed that the DH contained the history of Yahweh’s word at work. Time after time the Dtr described how a previously reported oracle from one of Yahweh’s prophets was fulfilled precisely as foretold. Thus, on the one hand, the destruction of Israel and Judah was in keeping with the prophetic pronunciation of doom in retaliation for disobedience. On the other hand, the final destruction was restrained by Yahweh’s promise to David found in Nathan’s oracle in 2 Samuel 7 and reiterated throughout 1-2 Kings (1 Kgs 8:20, 25; 9:5; 11:5, 13, 32, 36; 15:4; 2 Kgs 2:4; 8:19; 19:34; 20:6). In the passages referring to this promise, von Rad found a series of “Messianic conceptions” that, in his view, provided the basis for hope on the part of the Dtr for the restoration of the Davidic monarchy. In this light, the reference to Jehoiachin’s release at the very end of the DH was perceived by von Rad to have special theological significance. To be sure, the judgment component of Yahweh’s word dominated, at least for the time being, in the reality of the Exile. The Dtr could not minimize the severity of God’s punishment. However, it was equally impossible for him to concede that Yahweh’s promise to David had failed. The Dtr resolved this dilemma by recounting Jehoiachin’s release from imprisonment. His hope was not explicit, but this final account did leave history open; the Davidic line continued and provided a place for Yahweh to begin anew with his people.
A second important article on the purpose of the DH was contributed by H. W. Wolff in 1961. Wolff criticized the positions of both Noth and von Rad, suggesting that it was inconceivable that an exilic Israelite writer would take pen in hand simply for the purpose of proving to his contemporaries that they were getting just what they deserved. Wolff pointed out that Noth’s explanation for the inclusion of 2 Kgs 25:27–30 (Jehoiachin’s release) contradicted his (Noth’s) conclusion regarding the Dtr’s selective use of sources. Against von Rad, Wolff argued that the promise to David in Nathan’s oracle was subordinate to the Mosaic covenant, so that disobedience of the Mosaic law also abrogated the Davidic promise. Furthermore, the lack of reference to the Nathan oracle in 2 Kgs 25:27–30 indicated strongly that Dtr did not interpret Jehoiachin’s release in terms of the continuation of the Davidic promise as von Rad had asserted. The very length of the DH, according to Wolff, implied a more intricate purpose than either Noth or von Rad had recognized. Wolff found the purpose of the Dtr in the pattern of apostasy, punishment, repentance, and deliverance common in the DH, particularly in Judges. Dtr’s intent was to show the exiles that they were in the second stage of that cycle and therefore needed to cry out to Yahweh in repentance. Wolff pointed to the use of the verb šûb, “to return,” in key Deuteronomistic passages, especially Solomon’s speech in 1 Kings 8, as central to Dtr’s plea. For Wolff, Dtr’s purpose was not entirely negative as it was for Noth, nor did Dtr offer any explicit hope as von Rad claimed. Rather, Dtr raised only the possibility of hope by demonstrating the pattern of Yahweh’s previous dealings with Israel; the imperative for the exiles was simply to turn back to God.
The essays of von Rad and Wolff showed the weakness of Noth’s original position concerning the Dtr’s purpose and pointed out the tension within the DH between the Mosaic and Davidic covenants. Yet the analyses of von Rad and Wolff have their weaknesses. Von Rad’s work was especially insightful as far as it went, but he did not perceive the full significance of the Davidic theme for the related issues of purpose, composition, and date of the DH. Wolff’s major shortcoming lay in his attempt to dismiss the Davidic promise as conditional in the Dtr’s mind, a point specifically denied in the biblical texts.
3. Composition and Date. The one aspect of Noth’s thesis that has elicited the most discussion since 1943 has been his ascription of the whole of the DH to a single, exilic composer. Indeed, the question of the authorship and date of the DH has become one of the most debated issues in the field of biblical studies.
a. A Deuteronomistic School. The two scholars most commonly associated with this position are E. W. Nicholson (1967) and M. Weinfeld (1972). Each has published a book focusing on Deuteronomy which contends that the DH was the product of a circle of Deuteronomistic traditionalists.
Nicholson theorized that ancient traditions were preserved and transmitted by northern prophetic circles. After the devastation of Israel in 721 b.c.e., members of these circles fled S to Judah with the traditions they had collected. A short time later they threw their support behind Hezekiah’s doomed reform movement. During the reign of Manasseh (ca. 687–642 b.c.e.), these tradents drew up their own program for reform based in part upon traditional materials. The program’s principal doctrine was the centralization of the cult in Jerusalem, a notion derived from a reinterpretation of the Davidic royal theology that promoted a unique covenantal relationship between Yahweh and the dynasty of David. This program produced an early form of the book of Deuteronomy. A copy of the book was deposited in the Temple where it was discovered during Josiah’s reign and again used as a foundation for reform activity. At that point the Deuteronomistic school was revived and eventually generated the DH. Nicholson agreed with Noth’s date for the final form of the DH, though he believed that the work began in late preexilic times.
Weinfeld’s views on the composition of the DH are quite similar in some respects to those of Nicholson. Weinfeld traced three stages of development in Deuteronomistic composition: (1) the book of Deuteronomy in the second half of the 7th century b.c.e., (2) the editing of Joshua through Kings in the first half of the 6th century b.c.e., and (3) the writing of the prose sermons in Jeremiah during the latter half of the same century. Weinfeld suggested that Deuteronomistic literary activity began during the time of Hezekiah and continued into the Exile (1972: 25). Hence, like Nicholson, Weinfeld agreed with Noth’s date for the final form of the DH. Weinfeld’s main concern in his exhaustive study was to locate the school responsible for the DH in the Israelite wisdom tradition. Many of the insights adduced by Weinfeld from ANE parallel texts are invaluable in the study of the DH. However, his arguments for connecting the DH with wisdom circles are not convincing since the arguments are based on (1) too broad a characterization of wisdom, and (2) overly general thematic similarities between wisdom literature and the DH.
The arguments for a Deuteronomistic school lasting a century or more point out the difficulties involved in viewing the DH as a work addressing only exilic concerns. Nicholson’s reconstruction is especially attractive for its connections with historical circumstances. Still, it is never clear what a “school” or “circle” is supposed to have been, and the literary evidence alone is insufficient to reconstruct a social institution responsible for the production of the DH.
b. Redactional Levels. Four years before the appearance of Noth’s famous monograph, A. Jepsen wrote Die Quellen des Königsbuches. Unfortunately, the publication of this book was delayed until 1953. Jepsen’s complex analysis led him to conclude that the book of Kings was essentially the product of two exilic redactors. The first (R 1), a priest, compiled a history of Israel and Judah early in the Exile. The second (R 2) was a prophet about a generation later who took the work of R 1 as his primary source and enlarged it. Jepsen attributed most of the prophetic materials and the “Succession Narrative” to the editorial work of R 2. Since Jepsen’s R 2 was essentially the same as Noth’s Dtr (Jepsen 1956: 100–1, 105), this independent study provided valuable corroboration for Noth’s basic thesis concerning the existence and unity of the DH. At the same time, Jepsen’s conviction that redactional levels could be discerned in the DH clearly differed from Noth’s perspective. While Jepsen’s reconstruction of the redactional history of the DH has not achieved any real following (note, however, Baena 1973; 1974a; 1974b), his postulation of redactional levels was the initial representative of a position on the authorship of the DH that has gained many adherents.
Two major alternatives to Noth’s theory of a single, exilic composer for the DH have surfaced in the generation since Noth due to proposals by R. Smend and F. M. Cross. These two opinions have little in common other than their agreement that the DH should be understood as the product of multiple editors.
(1) Multiple Exilic Redactions. Smend (1971) initiated this approach with his contribution to the von Rad Festschrift. He treated selected passages in Joshua (1:7–9; 13:1b–6; 23) and Judges (1:1–2:9, 17, 20–21, 23), which, he argued, shared a different perspective from surrounding passages concerning Israel’s conquest of Canaan. According to the original version of the DH, Israel under Joshua conquered the entire land promised to them and drove out or destroyed its former inhabitants. The only task left to them was the settlement of the land. Smend called this original version of the DH “DtrG,” the G standing for Grundschrift, i.e., basic text, and he equated it with Noth’s Dtr. However, in the texts from Joshua and Judges listed above Smend found references to peoples the Israelites still needed to expel from the land. Smend also discerned an interest in law in these passages. He concluded that these texts were additions by a later redactor whom he designated DtrN (omistic). Smend’s theory has been extended by W. Dietrich (1972).
One of the problems with Smend’s initial essay was that it dealt with passages whose literary-critical condition was very much in disarray and debated among scholars. Dietrich’s study avoided this problem by focusing on a more fruitful area of the DH, the book of Kings. As Smend had done, Dietrich used literary-critical techniques to isolate secondary material in various narratives of Kings. He showed that these insertions had a common language and theology which he then examined in order to discover the identity of their redactor. Dietrich concluded that the DH had undergone two redactions beyond the original one (DtrG). The first and major one of these was the work of an individual associated with prophetic (especially Jeremianic) circles (1972: 104). DtrP, as Dietrich designated him, was both a writer, who composed many of the oracles now found in the DH, and an editor, who added some older prophetic materials to his DtrG Vorlage. DtrP was primarily responsible for the structure and contents of the DH. A final nomistic editor, designated DtrN, added certain other texts bearing a pro-Davidic interest, including the reference to Jehoiachin in 2 Kgs 25:27–30. Dietrich devoted very little space to the treatment of DtrN, almost presupposing its existence. Dietrich dated DtrG to ca. 580 b.c.e. and DtrN to ca. 560 with DtrP somewhere in between (1972: 143–44).
A third member of this “Göttingen school” is T. Veijola (1975; 1977). His two monographs have analyzed various portions of the DH according to the scheme worked out by Dietrich in Kings. In his 1975 volume Veijola covered most of 1-2 Samuel and 1 Kings 1–2. His 1977 work dealt with Judges 8–9; 17–21; and 1 Samuel 7–12. Both monographs assumed the correctness of Dietrich’s approach to the DH. Like Dietrich, Veijola used literary-critical arguments to partition the passages he treated between the three redactors, DtrG, DtrP, and DtrN. In Veijola’s view, DtrG had a positive perspective on the monarchy and was responsible for the doctrine in the DH concerning the permanence of the Davidic dynasty. DtrN, in contrast, viewed the monarchy negatively. While David himself was judged by DtrN to be a model king because of his fidelity to Yahweh’s law, the institution of kingship was the product of human sin and was damned by DtrN on narrow, legalistic grounds. The middle redactor, DtrP, qualified the positive tone of DtrG toward monarchy by the insertion of prophetic stories which subordinated the king’s role and importance to those of the prophets. Those stories also illustrated the certainty of Yahweh’s prophetically mitigated word. The basic approach of Smend, Dietrich, and Veijola to the DH has been adopted by R. Klein (1 Samuel WBC) and E. Würthwein (Kings ATD).
The adherents of the Göttingen school are expert literary critics, so the literary-critical observations that form the basis of their theory are often quite valuable. However, there are methodological problems with the approach as a whole (see Hoffmann 1980: 18–20; Campbell 1986: 5–12). These appear particularly in Dietrich’s work, since Veijola simply accepts Dietrich’s methods. For one thing, this approach assumes Noth’s conclusion that the DH was initially the product of exilic, Deuteronomistic redaction. The question of the existence of a preexilic, Deuteronomist or a pre-Dtr Vorlage is ignored. Yet, these are major issues in the debate over the authorship and setting of the DH. This failure has caused the proponents of this approach perhaps to misdate and misunderstand the prophetic component of the DH (see below). Secondly, the proponents of this approach have not produced an entirely clear picture of the three redactors. There are two sides to this problem. One is that the criteria provided do not always distinguish DtrG, DtrP, and DtrN clearly from each other. Dietrich, for example, is forced to admit that DtrP borrows heavily from DtrG both in terms of language and theology (1972: 138–39). The other side is that it is difficult to perceive any ideological unity within the material assigned to each redactor. The literary and linguistic evidence compiled by Dietrich and Veijola does illustrate the presence of editorial strands, but there is a need to distinguish more clearly the interests or tendencies of the editors at different levels.
(2) Double Redaction. The second major position on the composition of the DH is associated with Cross (CMHE, 274–89), who treated the issues of authorship, date, and purpose of the DH as different facets of the same question. Citing the validity of some of the older arguments, such as those of Jepsen (see above) and J. Gray (Kings OTL, 13–15), for a preexilic edition of Kings, Cross traced two themes through the book of Kings. The first was the sin of Jeroboam and the wickedness of the N kingdom, which culminated in the exposition on the destruction of Samaria in 2 Kgs 17:1–23. The second theme was grounded in the covenant theology of the S monarchy. The faithfulness of David set the tone for Yahweh’s dealings with Judah in the same way that Jeroboam’s sin led to Israel’s decline. There were no good kings in Israel; all of them sinned against Yahweh by “walking in the way of Jeroboam, son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin” (cf. 1 Kgs 15:26, 34; 16:19, 26, 31; 22:52; 2 Kgs 3:3; 10:29; 13:2, 6, 11; 14:24; 15:9, 18, 24, 28). In contrast to the series of dynasties in the N, Judah continued under David’s descendants. Judah had its share of evil kings, but Yahweh had promised David an enduring fiefdom (nîr, see Hanson 1968) in Jerusalem as a reward for his loyalty (1 Kgs 11:36; 15:4; 2 Kgs 8:19). The good kings in Judah were compared individually with David. The only king, including David, who escaped criticism was Josiah; his reforming reign represented the climax of this second theme. The persistence of these two themes and their respective climaxes led Cross to posit a primary edition of the DH written as a program supporting Josiah’s reform measures (CMHE, 284–85). This editor (Dtr 1) admonished his contemporaries to obedience to the Mosaic covenant that Josiah was attempting to reinstitute, believing that Yahweh would restore the kingdom by the hand of this new David in whom Dtr 1 had placed his hopes. The bulk of the DH, in Cross’ view, consisted of this propaganda from Josiah’s reign. A second, exilic redactor (Dtr 2) brought the primary edition up to date and blamed the Exile on Manasseh, whose wickedness doomed the later reforms of Josiah to futility (2 Kgs 21:10–25). Cross suggested that certain passages throughout the DH represented retouchings by Dtr 2. Such passages made the promise to David conditional, presupposed the Exile, or addressed the exiles and called for their repentance (Deut 4:27–31; 28:36–37, 63–68; 29:27; 30:1–10; Josh 23:11–13, 15–16; 1 Sam 12:25; 1 Kgs 2:4; 6:11–13; 8:25b, 46–53; 9:4–9; 2 Kgs 17:19; 20:17–18; 22:15–20; and perhaps Deut 30:11–20; 1 Kgs 3:14). The lack of any peroration on the fall of Judah comparable to that found in 2 Kings 17 on the fall of Israel was best explained, according to Cross, by regarding the exilic editor as less articulate than Dtr 1 (CMHE, 288).
Cross’ thematic argument has convinced a growing number of American scholars that the primary edition of the DH was Josianic, though his position has not been widely accepted in Europe. His Josianic setting for Dtr 1 accords well with the important place of Josiah noticed by previous studies of the DH, including that of Noth. Subsequent studies have gathered more evidence for a primary, Josianic edition. R. Friedman (1981a: 6–10), in particular, has noticed fundamental changes in the editorial perspective following the narrative concerning Josiah, and he has pointed out several deliberate links between the descriptions of the Mosaic period in Deuteronomy and Josiah’s efforts at reform. R. Nelson (1981), in his monograph advocating the double redaction theory, has focused on literary analysis and theology in addition to Cross’ thematic points. Nelson has also supplied the most thorough collection and evaluation available of the arguments for this hypothesis.
A number of scholars who concur with Cross’ basic hypothesis have published works concerned with sketching more precisely the contours of Dtr 2’s revisions and theology. All of these scholars are basically in agreement that Dtr 2 wrote during the Exile with the goals of ascribing that predicament to Manasseh and of bringing the Josianic history up to date. However, other passages attributed to Dtr 2 by Cross have been assigned to Dtr 1. Friedman (1981a: 12–13) and Nelson (1981: 118) have shown independently that the passages which Cross ascribed to Dtr 2 because they make the promise to David conditional (1 Kgs 2:4; 8:25b; 9:4–5) actually refer only to the loss of the N kingdom and hence are best viewed as the work of Dtr 1. Reference to captivity within a passage does not necessarily signal Dtr 2’s hand, since exile was a common and feared occurrence in the ANE long before the 6th century b.c.e. Also, the exile of the N kingdom was well known in Judah after 721 b.c.e. The judgment that a passage “sounds like” it was addressed to the exiles is too subjective by itself to carry much conviction. Friedman and Nelson have instead based their arguments for Dtr 2 material on thematic and linguistic criteria. Their conclusions tend to support Cross’ initial instincts in seeing Dtr 2’s revisions as relatively light.
However, others credit Dtr 2 with a much more active role in shaping the DH. Levenson, for example, argues on literary and theological grounds that Dtr 2 was responsible for inserting the Book of the Law into Deuteronomy (1975) and ascribes most of Solomon’s speech in 1 Kings 8 to him (1980). Mayes (1983) has produced the first attempt to reconstruct in detail the redactional history of the entire DH. His literary-critical discussion credits Dtr 2 with significant revision and supplementation throughout the corpus.
c. A Single Exilic Author. B. Peckham (1985) and H.-D. Hoffmann (1980) have made separate attempts to return to Noth’s original position that the DH was the work of a single exilic writer, although each also tried to refine Noth’s conclusions. Peckham’s 1985 monograph (note also his 1983 article) expressed the opinion that the real problem with Noth’s proposal was his understanding of the sources of the DH as fragmentary and discontinuous. By way of correction, Peckham offered a complex theory about the way in which Dtr 2 rewrote various sources in order to form the entire historical work from Genesis through Kings. Peckham analyzed each of Dtr 2’s sources in turn. The fundamental source was J’s terse narrative. Each of the following sources was composed as a running commentary on the text that grew out of Israel’s historiographic tradition. J was expounded by Dtr 1, apparently in the reign of Hezekiah. An alternative interpretation of J was written by P. E was produced as a supplement to J and P and as a variant to Dtr 1. Dtr 2’s work was the culmination of this literary process. Dtr 2 was not an editor, but a tradent who thoroughly revised and rewrote the histories which he inherited. Dtr 2’s history was never itself revised, but a legislative supplement (Lev 1:1–7:38 and 11:46–27:34), designated Ps, was grafted onto it, thus giving the Pentateuch its present form. Peckham’s view of the relationship between the sources and the extent of Dtr 2’s work is creative but highly idiosyncratic. His criteria for distinguishing these sources are never revealed. Indeed, he states that Dtr 2’s use of repetition and imitation makes his history “almost indistinguishable from its antecedents” (1985: 49). As a result, his reconstruction of the various layers of composition in the DH appears almost entirely subjective.
Like Peckham (1983: 217–18), Hoffmann (1980: 16–17) asserts that Noth’s original thesis contains an inherent contradiction in the notion of the Dtr as both author and editor. His own solution to this perceived contradiction is, however, quite different than Peckham’s. Hoffmann concludes that the DH is essentially a fictional history of Israel’s cult by an exilic or postexilic author. The Dtr’s technique is to contrast the right reforms of good kings with the evil “reforms” of wicked kings. This “pendulum swing” effect is more exaggerated as the account approaches its climax (Zielpunkt) in Josiah’s reform (2 Kings 22–24). Josiah and his reign serve as the model for a new beginning when the Exile is over. The story of Josiah shares connections with that of every reforming king before him. Indeed, the hallmark of the Dtr’s literary work is the way in which he links texts by a variety of methods. The basis of the Dtr’s judgments concerning the kings of Israel and Judah is the first commandment of the Mosaic law, which sets Israel apart from the nations. Jeroboam, who led Israel away from cultic centralization, and Ahab, who imported Baalism, are the paradigms of wickedness. While the Dtr did employ some historical sources, this occurred more rarely than most scholars, including Noth, have admitted, and these sources can no longer be isolated precisely in the Dtr’s highly fictional and tendentious narrative (compare the similar views of Van Seters 1983a: 317–21, 354–62). In short, Hoffmann sees the Deuteronomist as a true author, not a compiler or redactor, whose work is far more creative than even Noth perceived it to be.
There is much that is useful in Hoffmann’s book. His analysis of the cross-references within the DH confirms Noth’s view of the essential unity of the work. He demonstrates the significance of the cult for the Dtr, a topic which had not previously received so full a treatment. He shows, perhaps more clearly than any previous scholar, the importance of Josiah in the DH. However, his theory regarding the exilic setting for the Dtr does not do justice to the significance of Josiah in the DH; the emphasis on Josiah is explained more clearly by Cross’ proposal that the original edition of the DH was in fact Josianic. Hoffmann’s monograph completely ignores the position of Cross and his followers. His failure to treat any king after Josiah also tends to substantiate the view that the material following Josiah in the DH is a less creative narrative tacked on to the main body of the work. Finally, Hoffmann’s judgment regarding the fictional nature of the DH is unwarranted. To be sure, the Dtr (or Dtr 1) is a creative writer with definite interests, whose work must therefore be used with great caution in historical reconstruction. At the same time, the evidence for various historical traditions underlying the DH is too strong simply to dismiss the work cavalierly as fiction (see section 5 below).
d. Toward a Solution. Almost all of the above-mentioned studies on the composition of the DH have some merit, and it is possible to treat their various conclusions as complementary rather than contrastive. For instance, the notion of a Deuteronomistic school is compatible not only with the view that the DH was put together in its final form by a single individual in the Exile, but also with the theory of multiple editions of the DH (Weinfeld 1972: 7–8). The conclusions of Dietrich and Cross are not entirely irreconcilable, since they actually focus on different aspects of the issue of authorship. The arguments of Cross are primarily thematic, while Dietrich’s are literary. Yet, Cross’ evidence that the primary redaction of the DH supported Josiah carries more conviction than does Dietrich’s interpretation on literary-critical grounds. The importance of Josiah for the DH is confirmed not only by the additional evidence from Friedman and Nelson, but also by the observations of Hoffmann. Still, Cross’ theory of a double redaction does not answer all the questions raised by the DH. In particular, the significance of the prophetic stories with their generally negative orientation toward the monarchy goes beyond the interests of Dtr 1 and even stands in tension with his support of the Davidic dynasty, especially as it is represented in Josiah. At the same time, the stress on prophecy is not likely a part of the same edition that added the laconic account of Judah after Josiah and blamed Manasseh for the Exile (Cross, CMHE, 285–86).
An intriguing addendum to Cross’ theory incorporating some of the most important literary insights of Dietrich and Veijola has been proposed by P. K. McCarter. In his volumes on the books of Samuel (1 Samuel AB, 18–23; 2 Samuel AB, 6–8) McCarter takes the position that a pre-Deuteronomistic level of redaction, done from a prophetic perspective, exists in this material. Hence, much of what Veijola identifies as DtrP in 2 Samuel is assigned by McCarter to this prophetic history. The prophetic historian, in McCarter’s view, collected the oldest sources underlying Samuel. In 1 Samuel these include the Ark Narrative (1 Sam 2:12–17, 22–25; 4:1b–7:1), a cycle of stories about Saul (beneath 1 Sam 1:1–28; 9:1–10:16; 10:27b–11:15; 13:2–7a, 15b–23; 14:1–46), and an apology for David sometimes called the “History of David’s Rise” (1980; 1 Samuel AB, 18–20), behind 1 Samuel 16–2 Samuel 5. McCarter argues that in 2 Samuel the primary source was an apology for Solomon (the so-called “Succession Narrative”), which was itself a compilation of various stories from David’s reign (2 Samuel AB, 9–16). See also COURT NARRATIVE (2 SAMUEL 9–1 KINGS 2). The prophetic historian reordered these sources, with editorial comments, into a running, historical narrative. According to McCarter, the skeptical view of kingship and its subjection to prophecy within the prophetic history betrays the work’s N origin. However, the history’s acceptance of the Davidic dynasty and the text’s hopeful orientation toward Judah as the bearer of Israel’s future leads McCarter to date the prophetic document to the end of the 8th century, during or shortly after the fall of Samaria (see also Mayes 1983: 84–85).
A. Campbell (1986) has also posited a prophetic document, which he calls the prophetic record, underlying the DH in the books of Samuel and Kings. Campbell’s reconstruction differs from that of McCarter in several particulars. Campbell does not assign as much material in Samuel to his prophetic record as McCarter assigns to his prophetic history. For example, Campbell does not believe that the prophetic record included the Ark Narrative or the Succession Narrative (1986: 67, 82–84). Campbell’s prophetic record viewed monarchy as the gift of Yahweh and not as a sinful, human invention, as McCarter argues is the case with his prophetic history. Finally, Campbell dates his prophetic record to the reign of Jehu (late 9th century b.c.e.) and sees it as a document that sought to legitimate Jehu’s prophetic anointing and therefore, his kingship (1986: 108–10). Hence, Campbell traces the prophetic record in 1-2 Kings (cf. McKenzie 1985b). He finds it underlying the accounts of the N kings and culminating with a version of Jehu’s revolt beneath 2 Kings 9–10. In Campbell’s reconstruction, the prophetic record underlies the competition on Mt. Carmel in 1 Kings 18, the Naboth story in 1 Kings 21, and Ahijah’s death in 2 Kings 1, but not the rest of the Elijah cycle and none of the Elisha stories.
Despite their differences, both McCarter and Campbell agree that a N prophetic document underlies the Deuteronomistic redaction in the books of Samuel and Kings. The existence of such a pre-Deuteronomistic, prophetic work may help to resolve some of the literary and thematic tensions within the DH. If McCarter’s characterization is correct, the prophetic history should continue as an underlying layer in Kings (cf. McKenzie 1985b). Such a layer explains the preservation of lengthy prophetic stories which obviously had little to do in their original form with the concerns of Dtr 1 (e.g., 1 Kgs 13:11–32). It also supports the idea that many of the negative sentiments expressed in the DH toward Israel or its kingship come not from a late redaction of the history but from an earlier level founded in the old league traditions of the north. A number of questions about this prophetic level remain to be answered. What were its exact parameters? Is there any relationship between this prophetic work and the prophetic concerns pointed to by Nicholson in Deuteronomy? Is this prophetic redaction related to arguments by various scholars (Halpern 1981: 48–53; Mayes 1983: 120–25; McKenzie 1985a: 174–76; Weippert 1972) for redactional activity in the DH at the time of Hezekiah? The most that can be said at present is that a prophetic redaction of the sort described by McCarter and Campbell may have served as a major source for Dtr 1’s account of the monarchy.
Since the days of Rost, Noth, and their contemporaries, and thanks to their pioneering work, scholars have made important strides in uncovering the process behind the formation of the DH. There is not, of course, unanimous agreement on the issues, yet progress has been made and continues to be made, however slowly, within historical critical scholarship. This is an important point since several scholars in recent years have adopted newer approaches to the Bible, abandoning historical criticism out of frustration with its results (see below). Recent work on the books of Samuel and Kings makes it clear that a more fruitful approach to the question of the composition of the DH may be found not in late redactions (a task that has preoccupied many researchers), but in the search for sources and redactions preceding the edition of Dtr 1. McCarter and Campbell have drawn attention to the significance of intermediate redactions lying between the oldest sources and Dtr 1.
The genius of Noth’s initial proposal for the existence of the DH was his perception of the overall unity of the account from Deuteronomy through Kings. The genius of Cross’ later correction rests in his observation that the principal concerns of this large unit were with an earlier era, rather than the period reached by the DH’s account. In Cross’ theory, the second editor of the DH was primarily responsible for adding a relatively brief appendix to the body of the work, while the unity of that body was maintained. The search for sources and redactions underlying the DH is certainly a valuable endeavor and has provided scholars with a clearer picture of how this great work developed. However, those who search for sources must be careful not to obscure the unity of the work, Noth’s real insight. Some recent treatments of the DH (Hoffmann and Van Seters) call for fresh studies of the creativeness of the Dtr in his use of traditions and in his own composition. Critical scholarship of the DH has a real need for specialists in literary studies and historiography. But those who study the creativity of the Dtr must in turn not lose sight of the conclusions of older literary critics regarding the sources used by the Dtr.
McKenzie, Steven L. “Deuteronomistic History.” Edited by David Noel Freedman. The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
While I don't have a problem with the idea that a "Deuteronomist" or school of "Deuteronomists" promulgated the Deuteronomistic History (and, more generally, the Primary History), I do take issue with the timing and actors assumed by the Deuteronomostic History Theory because it simultaneously attempts to treat a document as both fiction and fact. Noth and his followers have no rational basis for treating any aspect of the Deuteronomistic History as factual.