Fortress have sent along a copy of The Authors of the Deuteronomistic History: Locating a Tradition in Ancient Israel to be reviewed. I’ve read the conclusion (because I always read the conclusion first) and it seems quite an interesting thesis; i.e., that the priests of Anathoth (including Jeremiah) were responsible for what we call the Deuteronomistic History. I’m interested in seeing if the author can prove his case.
Peterson engages one of the most enduring controversies in current critical scholarship on the Hebrew Bible, the identities and provenances of the authors of the various “editions” of the Deuteronomistic History. Critically reviewing the presuppositions of scholars reaching back to Martin Noth, and using careful analysis of motif and characterization at each redactional level in each book of the Deuteronomistic History, Peterson asks where we might locate a figure with both motive and opportunity to draw up a proto-narrative including elements of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and the first part of 1 Kings.
Posing his questions in the form of a “Whodunit?” Peterson identifies a particular candidate in the time of David who had both knowledge and a theological and political agenda, qualified to write the first edition. He then extends the method to identify the particular circle who became the custodians of the Deuteronomistic narrative and supplies successive redactions, informed by the original formative vision, down to the time of Jeremiah. Careful argumentation yields surprising results at each stage.
The volume can be examined in some detail at the link above to the publisher’s page. Indeed- one can view the
There one will get a good sense of the aim of the author which is, quite simply put, to attempt to demonstrate that the authors of DtrH are priests from Anathoth, including Jeremiah and Baruch.
He musters a trove of material and searches through it high and low and makes a case that is almost convincing. The heart of the argument is to be found in chapters 5-10 where our author discusses and investigates each book presently part of the DtrH, and then he concludes that
Theories that exclude, a priori, the possibility that large portions of the DtrH may derive from antiquity serve only to hamstring open debate (p. 297).
Jeremiah may not have written the entire DtrH, but he certainly could have completed and edited it as one of the final contributors from Anathoth (p. 301-302).
What are we to make of all of this? Peterson has a lot of evidence. He offers pretty good arguments. But he – regrettably – fails to persuade. The reason for this is simply that the conclusion isn’t necessary from the evidence. There were priests in Anathoth and Jeremiah does sound in places like the Dtr. But similarity does not require familiarity. Nor does similarity require that we posit one author or school of authors for a particular series of texts.
To be sure, there may be rather a lot to Peterson’s theory. It isn’t impossible. It’s just unprovable. And it seems to me a step back to the heyday of historical-critical scholarship, when overconfidence was the rule of the day. There are things we don’t know and probably shall never know. Who wrote most of the Hebrew Bible will remain a mystery – for all time perhaps. But it is fun to probe the materials and provide a thought experiment as to who, what, when, where, why, and how.
Consequently, at the end of the day, this book may not be convincing, but it is enjoyable- because it provides readers with a new view of things. And whether or not one agrees with its conclusions, readers will learn a good deal. For that reason alone it is commendable. You should read this book.
I’d add one to Brian’s fine list (a list, I have to tell you, which is just -fantastic).
#11- It’s a stupid holiday.
Go see Brian’s 10 reasons why he doesn’t celebrate the stupid holiday.
Here they are in their costumes…
So, take note!
Just in time for SBL!!!! What. A. Coincidence!
In a startling follow-up to the New York Times bestseller The Jesus Family Tomb, a historical detective story that unravels a newly translated document filled with startling revelations and fascinating detail about the life and times of Jesus.
The Dead Sea Scrolls, the Gnostic writings and now The Lost Gospel, a newly decoded manuscript that uncovers groundbreaking revelations about the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth – a startling follow-up to the New York Times bestseller The Jesus Family Tomb.
Waiting to be rediscovered in the British Library is an ancient manuscript of the early Church, copied by an anonymous monk. The manuscript is at least 1,450 years old, possibly dating to the first century i.e., Jesus’ lifetime. And now, The Lost Gospel provides the first ever translation from Syriac into English of this unique document that tells the inside story of Jesus’ social, family and political life.
The Lost Gospel takes the reader on an unparalleled historical adventure through a paradigm shifting manuscript. What the authors eventually discover is as astounding as it is surprising: the confirmation of Jesus’ marriage to Mary Magdalene; the names of their two children; the towering presence of Mary Magdalene; a previously unknown plot on Jesus’ life, 13 years prior to the crucifixion; an assassination attempt against Mary Magdalene and their children; Jesus’ connection to political figures at the highest level of the Roman Empire; and a religious movement that antedates that of Paul—the Church of Mary Magdalene. Part historical detective story, part modern adventure The Lost Gospel reveals secrets that have been hiding in plain sight for millennia.
Or, you could just send me the $20 you’d spend on that ahistorical pseudo-scholarship. Face it, you get more facts here in one post than you will in 50000000 pages by a not naked not archaeologist or historian.