The Deuteronomistic Redactional Layer

Dtr Redactional layers

It sounds complicated but it’s really quite simple. In my first two videos in this series explaining academic terms used in Biblical studies I spoke about the terms  Deuteronomistic and redaction. In this 9.5 minute video I combine the two ideas and speak about the Deuteronomistic redactional layer (or layers) which some scholars argue can be detected in several books of the Hebrew Bible, and why we need to know about this.

Academic terms: Deuteronomistic (2)

This post provides additional information about the terms Deuteronomic and Deuteronomistic which I briefly defined in yesterday’s video blog. There has been considerable scholarly discussion about these terms since the proposal of Martin Noth that Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, and 1-2 Kings form a single literary presentation of the history of Israel. However, my use of these terms should not imply that I necessarily adopt Noth’s definitions of these terms. Scholars in various ‘schools’ of thought use Noth’s terms in ways which have changed markedly from his original proposal, so that his distinctions do not necessarily carry the same meaning in these contexts, and this can lead to confusion.

Noth originally used the term Deuteronomic to refer to themes and phraseology in the book of Deuteronomy, and Deuteronomistic when referring to themes and phraseology in the historical books which he argued were a kind of ‘sequel’ to Deuteronomy.  His distinction between the terms has been refined by subsequent scholars, especially by Frank M. Cross. Some scholars find it impractical to maintain the distinction between Deuteronomic and Deuteronomistic and opt for either one term or the other. Raymond Person, for example, encourages scholars to either adopt one term or the other and use them consistently, or to define their terms so that readers are clear which of the multiple meanings they are using. Person himself opts for using ‘Deuteronomic’. In this blog I generally use Deuteronomistic  with reference to terminology, themes and ideas which are found in those biblical texts regarded by many scholars as coming from a common author or school of thought and sometimes called ‘the Deuteronomistic historian’ (namely, sections of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings and Jeremiah). The word Deuteronomic is used with reference to terminology, themes and ideas found in the biblical book of Deuteronomy.

In a future video blog I will talk about “redactional layers” and what some scholars regard as a Deuteronomistic redactional layer.

For further reading see:

Martin Noth, Überlieferungsgeschichtliche Studien: Die sammelnden und bearbeitenden Geschichtswerke im Alten Testament (Tübingen: M. Niemeyer, 1957).

Martin Noth, The Deuteronomistic History (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1981).

Frank M. Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic: Essays in the History of the Religion of Israel (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1973), 274 n.1.

Raymond F. Person, Jr., The Deuteronomic School: History, Social Setting, and Literature (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2002), 6-7.

Person Jr, Raymond F. “In Conversation With Thomas Römer, The So-Called Deuteronomistic History: A Sociological, Historical And Literary Introduction (London: T. & T. Clark, 2005).” Journal of Hebrew Scriptures 9, no. 17 (2009): 1-49. 

Moshe Weinfeld, Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic School. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972;

Kurt L. Noll,  “Deuteronomistic History or Deuteronomic Debate? (A Thought Experiment).” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 31, no. 3 (2007): 311-45. 

Römer, Thomas C., The So-Called Deuteronomistic History: a Sociological, Historical and Literary Introduction. London: T & T Clark, 2005.

Römer, Thomas C. “The Current Discussion on the so-called Deuteronomistic History: Literary Criticism and Theological Consequences.” Christianity and Culture, no. 46 (2015): 43-66. 

Auld, A. Graeme. “The Deuteronomists and the Former Prophets, or What Makes the Former Prophets Deuteronomistic?,” Pages 116-26 in Those Elusive Deuteronomists: The Phenomenon of Pan-Deuteronomism. Edited by L. S. Schearing and S. L. McKenzie. Vol. 268 of Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplementary Series. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999.

Academic terms: Deuteronomistic

DeuteronomisticThis is the first of a series of video blogs I’ll be posting on biblical studies academic terms. Academic jargon is useful for academics: it provides a kind of shortcut so that one word or phrase can sum up a whole concept which may have been thoroughly developed in a thesis, and perhaps debated and refined over decades. But for those who are not ‘in the know’ they can sound pretentious. I generally try to avoid academic jargon in this blog, but when I do use it I also try to provide an explanation. Sometimes I don’t, because I think I’ve explained it earlier, but I’m aware that not everyone has read every post since I started blogging, so it could be handy to have a link to an explanation. The plan is that these videos will all be short (5-10 mins) episodes.

I’m kicking off with an 8 minute explanation of the terms Deuteronomistic, Deuteronomic, Deuteronomy and Deuterocanonical (no, they do not all mean the same thing!)