The Authorship Of Samuel: The Deuteronomist 70 Years After Noth -- By: Brian N. Peterson

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 172:688 (Oct 2015)
Article: The Authorship Of Samuel: The Deuteronomist 70 Years After Noth
Author: Brian N. Peterson

The Authorship Of Samuel:
The Deuteronomist 70 Years After Noth

Brian N. Peterson

Brian N. Peterson is assistant professor of Old Testament, Lee University, Cleveland, Tennessee.


Over the past seventy years, scholars have proposed numerous theories to improve on and, in some cases, sideline Martin Noth’s theory found in The Deuteronomistic History. One of the central tenets of Noth’s theory is the unity and antiquity of the Samuel, Saul, and David traditions, which make up the book of Samuel. Noth also suggested these traditions were incorporated into the DtrH by the putative Dtr with minimal editing. Since Noth’s era, few have ventured a guess as to the authorship of these earliest strands; most prefer to speak of “Deuteronomists” at work over a period of time. In view of the arguable stagnation of the discussion, this article proposes that the eyewitness perspective, pro-Davidic sympathies, anti-Saul rhetoric, and knowledge of the Elide family line point to one possible candidate who may have authored what Noth designated as the earliest traditions of Samuel—Abiathar the priest.

The year 2013 saw the seventieth anniversary of Martin Noth’s seminal work, The Deuteronomistic History (1943),1 whose hypothesis has spawned numerous redactional theories for Deuteronomy–Kings (hereafter DtrH).2 Indeed, Noth’s

work continues to influence DtrH scholars, as evidenced by compendiums of essays devoted to his theory.3 However, over the past seven decades rarely have scholars attempted to posit a possible author for the DtrH or its select books, apart from the nebulous “Deuteronomist(s)” of the sixth century or later.4 Of course according to Jewish tradition, Moses recorded Deuteronomy; Joshua and Samuel penned the books that bear their names (Judges also being attributed to Samuel); and Kings is linked to Jeremiah (Baba Bathra 14b and 15a). Now while any number of arguments could be, and have been, marshalled for or against this traditional authorship of the DtrH, one thing is certain: based upon the death announcement of 1 Samuel 25:1, it is impossible that Samuel wrote the entire book that bears his name, which prompts a search for an author who lived perhaps during, but definitely after, this event.

What is more, one of the foundational tenets of Noth’s theory is that...

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