The Deuteronomist, or simply D, is one of the sources identified
through source criticism as underlying much of the Hebrew Bible
(Christian Old Testament). Seen by most scholars more as a school or
movement than a single author, Deuteronomistic material is found in
the book of Deuteronomy, in the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and
Kings (the Deuteronomistic history, or DtrH), and also in the book of
Jeremiah. (The adjectives Deuteronomic and Deuteronomistic are
sometimes used interchangeably: if they are distinguished, then the
first refers to
and the second to the history.)
It is generally agreed that the Deuteronomistic history originated
independently of the books of Genesis, Exodus,
(the first four books of the Torah, sometimes called the "Tetrateuch",
whose sources are the Priestly source, the
and the Elohist),
and the history of the books of Chronicles; most scholars trace all or
most of it to the
(6th century BCE), and associate it
with editorial reworking of both the Tetrateuch and Jeremiah.
2 Deuteronomistic works
2.2 Deuteronomistic history
2.3 Jeremiah and the prophetic literature
3 Deuteronomism (Deuteronomistic theology)
4 See also
7 External links
Since the mid-20th century, scholars have imagined the Deuteronomists
Levites (a junior order of priests), or as prophets in the
tradition of the northern Kingdom of Israel, or as sages and scribes
at the royal court. Recent scholarship has interpreted the book as
involving all these groups, and the origin and growth of Deuteronomism
is usually described in the following terms:
Following the destruction of Israel (the northern kingdom) by Assyria
in 721 BCE, refugees came south to Judah, bringing with them
traditions, notably the concept of
Yahweh as the only god who should
be served, which had not previously been known. Among those influenced
by these new ideas were the landowning aristocrats (called "people of
the land" in the Bible) who provided the administrative elite in
In 640 BCE there was a crisis in Judah when king Amon was murdered.
The aristocrats suppressed the attempted coup, putting the ringleaders
to death and placing Amon's eight-year-old son, Josiah, on the throne.
Judah at this time was a vassal of Assyria, but
Assyria now began a
rapid and unexpected decline in power, leading to a resurgence of
nationalism in Jerusalem. In 622 BCE
Josiah launched his reform
program, based on an early form of
Deuteronomy 5–26, framed as a
covenant (treaty) between Judah and
Yahweh in which
the Assyrian king.
By the end of the 7th century BCE
Assyria had been replaced by a new
imperial power, Babylon. The trauma of the destruction of Jerusalem by
the Babylonians in 586 BCE, and the exile which followed, led to much
theological reflection on the meaning of the tragedy, and the
Deuteronomistic history was written as an explanation: Israel had been
unfaithful to Yahweh, and the exile was God's punishment.
By about 540 BCE Babylon was also in rapid decline as the next rising
power, the Achaemenid Empire, steadily ate away at it. With the end of
the Babylonian oppression becoming ever more probable,
given a new introduction and attached to the history books as an
overall theological introduction.
The final stage was the addition of a few extra laws following the
Fall of Babylon
Fall of Babylon to the Persians in 539 BCE and the return of some (in
practice only a small fraction) of the exiles to Jerusalem.
Main article: Deuteronomy
Deuteronomy was formed by a complex process that reached probably from
the 7th century BCE to the early 5th. It consists of a historical
prologue; an introduction; the
Deuteronomic Code followed by blessings
and curses; and a conclusion.
The law code (chapters 12–26) forms the core of the book. 2
Kings 22–23 tells how a "book of the law", commonly identified with
the code, was found in the Temple during the reign of Josiah.
According to the story in Kings, the reading of the book caused Josiah
to embark on a series of religious reforms, and it has been suggested
that it was written in order to validate this program.
Notwithstanding, it is generally accepted that at least some of the
laws are much earlier than Josiah.
The introduction to the code (chapters 4:44–11:32) was added during
Josiah's time, thus creating the earliest version of
Deuteronomy as a
book, and the historical prologue (chapters 1–4:43) was added
still later to turn
Deuteronomy into an introduction to the entire
Deuteronomistic history (
Deuteronomy to Kings).
The term was coined in 1943 by the German biblical scholar Martin Noth
to explain the origin and purpose of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings.
These, he argued, were the work of a single 6th-century BCE author
seeking to explain recent events (the fall of Jerusalem and the
Babylonian exile) using the theology and language of the book of
Deuteronomy. The author used his sources with a heavy hand,
depicting Joshua as a grand, divinely guided conquest, Judges as a
cycle of rebellion and salvation, and the story of the kings as
recurring disaster due to disobedience to God.
The late 1960s saw the beginning of a series of studies that modified
Noth's original concept. In 1968
Frank Moore Cross
Frank Moore Cross made an important
revision, suggesting that the history was in fact first written in the
late 7th century BCE as a contribution to king Josiah's program of
reform (the Dtr1 version), and only later revised and updated by
Noth's 6th-century author (Dtr2). Dtr1 saw Israel's history as a
contrast between God's judgment on the sinful northern kingdom of
Jeroboam I (who set up the golden calves to be worshiped) and virtuous
Judah, where faithful king David had reigned and where now the
Josiah was reforming the kingdom. The exilic Dtr2
overwrote this with warnings of a broken covenant and inevitable
punishment and exile for sinful (in Dtr2's view) Judah.
Cross's "dual redaction" model is probably the most widely
accepted, but a considerable number of European scholars prefer an
alternative model put forward by
Rudolf Smend and his pupils. This
approach holds that Noth was right to locate the composition of the
history in the 6th century, but that further redactions took place
after the initial composition, including a "nomistic" (from the Greek
word for "law"), or DtrN, layer, and a further layer concerned with
the prophets and so called DtrP.
For a time, the existence of the Deuteronomistic history enjoyed
"canonical" status in biblical studies. In the late 1990s,
however, the consensus regarding its existence collapsed. Writing in
Gary N. Knoppers noted that "in the last five years an
increasing number of commentators have expressed grave doubts about
fundamental tenets of Noth's classic study."
Jeremiah and the prophetic literature
The prose sermons in the
Book of Jeremiah
Book of Jeremiah are written in a style and
outlook closely akin to, yet different from, the Deuteronomistic
history. Scholars differ over how much of the book is from
Jeremiah himself and how much from later disciples, but the Swiss
scholar Thomas Römer has recently identified two Deuteronomistic
"redactions" (editings) of the book of Jeremiah some time before the
end of the Exile (pre-539 BCE) – a process which also involved the
prophetic books of Amos and Hosea. It is interesting to note, in
reference to the "authors" of the Deuteronomistic works, how Jeremiah
the prophet uses scribes such as Baruch to accomplish his ends. It
is also noteworthy that the History never mentions Jeremiah, and some
scholars believe that the "Jeremiah" Deuteronomists represent a
distinct party from the "History" Deuteronomists, with opposing
Deuteronomism (Deuteronomistic theology)
Deuteronomy is conceived of as a covenant (a treaty) between the
Israelites and Yahweh, who has chosen ("elected") the Israelites
as his people, and requires Israel to live according to his law.
Israel is to be a theocracy with
Yahweh as the divine suzerain.
The law is to be supreme over all other sources of authority,
including kings and royal officials, and the prophets are the
guardians of the law: prophecy is instruction in the law as given
through Moses, the law given through Moses is the complete and
sufficient revelation of the Will of God, and nothing further is
Under the covenant
Yahweh has promised Israel the land of Canaan, but
the promise is conditional: if the
Israelites are unfaithful, they
will lose the land. The Deuteronomistic history explains Israel's
successes and failures as the result of faithfulness, which brings
success, or disobedience, which brings failure; the destruction of the
Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians (721 BCE) and the Kingdom of Judah
by the Babylonians (586) are Yahweh's punishment for continued
Deuteronomy insists on the centralisation of worship "in the place
that the Lord your God will choose";
Deuteronomy never says where this
place will be, but Kings makes it clear that it is Jerusalem.
It also shows a special concern for the poor, for widows and the
Israelites are brothers and sisters, and each will
answer to God for his treatment of his neighbor. This concern for
equality and humanity extends also to the stranger who lives among the
Israelites. The stranger is often mentioned in tandem with the
concern for the widow and the orphan. Furthermore, there is a specific
commandment to love the stranger.
Gerhard von Rad
^ Albertz (2000), pp.2–4
^ Spieckermann, p.338
^ Knight, pp.65–66
^ Block, p.167
^ Albertz (1994a) pp.198-206
^ Rogerson, pp.153-154
^ Albertz (2003), p.269
^ Rogerson, 153
^ Sparks, p.225
^ Haynes&McKenzie, p.40
^ a b Knight, p.66
^ Van Seters, p.17
^ Miller, p.3
^ Phillips, p.3
^ Campbell&O'Brien (2000), p.11
^ Knight, p.64
^ Niditch, p.10
^ Knight, pp.64–65
^ Richter, p.3
^ Albertz (2003), p.277
^ Römer (2000), p.116
^ De Pury, p.74
^ Stephen L. McKenzie, quoted in Richter, p.2
^ Knoppers, p. 120.
^ Thompson, pp.43–45
^ Thompson, p.34
^ Schearing, p.17
^ Breuggemann (2003), p.91
^ Römer (1995), p.191
^ a b c Van Seters, pp.18ff
^ Breuggemann (2002), p.61
^ Block, p.172
^ Laffey, p.337
^ McKenzie (2000), p.26
^ Spencer, John R. (1992). "Sojourner". Anchor Bible Dictionary. 6:
^ Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 6, p. 104.
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Deuteronomist source (Dtr1) isolated, at wikiversity
Deuteronomist source (Dtr2) isolated, at wikiversity
The narrative of
Deuteronomy in isolation, at