Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BBR 11:2 (2001) p. 305
Those Elusive Deuteronomists: The Phenomenon of Pan-Deuteronomism. Edited by Linda S. Schearing and Steven L. McKenzie. JSOTSup 268. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999. 288 pp. ISBN 1-84127-010-5. $80.00
Nine essays in this collection were delivered at the Deuteronomistic History section of the 1996 SBL Annual Meeting. Two are reprinted articles (Coggins’s and Lohfink’s), and two were solicited (Wilson’s and Ben Zvi’s). They are thoughtfully arranged in order to give fair coverage to the topic of Deuteronomistic influence in the Hebrew Bible. L. S. Schearing’s “Introduction” provides helpful summaries of the articles. There are indexes of biblical references and authors.
The significance of this volume certainly goes beyond the issue of Deuteronomism, because so much of the discussion impinges on the general methodology of biblical Studies. When do parallels of terminology or theme imply a genetic relationship between texts, and who is dependent on whom? How does one trace a tradition through biblical literature and history? And when can a particular tradition be said to have ownership or copyright of a literary style or theological theme? When can a series of biblical texts be said to reflect an actual sociological movement in ancient Israel? And how widely published were our written biblical texts in ancient Israel?
Part 1 (“Pan-Deuteronomism: The Problem”) consists of three programmatic essays. In biblical scholarship since 1951, R. Coggins (“What Does ‘Deuteronomist’ Mean?”) has noted a virtual outbreak of Deuteronomistic influence on the Hebrew Bible. Its presence has been detected not only in Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic History of Joshua-2 Kings but also in the Tetrateuch (especially the Sinai material in Exodus), the editing of Jeremiah, and many of the preexilic Prophets. Its reach may extend even to Job and Ecclesiastes if, as Weinfeld suggests, Deuteronomy and Proverbs are closely linked. N. F. Lohfink (“Was There a Deuteronomistic Movement?”) has noted the “inflationary” use of the “Deuteronomistic” label in recent biblical scholarship and the “pan-Deuteronomistic chain reactions” that link a surprising assortment of biblical texts. He thus wisely calls for the establishment of criteria in the evaluation of vocabulary, themes, and narrative patterns often considered distinctive to Deuteronomy. He is to be commended especially for calling for “a countercheck from a control corpus.” (One may note, for example, that, while 1-2 Chronicles appears to have used a form of Samuel—Kings as a source and is thus filled with Deuteronomistic vocabulary and themes, it should not therefore be labeled “Deuteronomistic.”) He also makes many sound, common-sense observations about the question o...
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