Deuteronomy and Centralization

in Vetus Testamentum
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Biblical scholars have long attributed King Josiah’s reform to the influence of Deuteronomy and its call for centralizing the cult. Even those who trace the book’s origin to the Northern kingdom or regard chapter 12 as a late insertion understand it as requiring cult centralization. Since so much of modern biblical scholarship rests on linking Deuteronomy to Josiah’s reform, that chapter has been described as “an archimedean point” for biblical studies. However, the syntax of Deuteronomy 12 (especially verses 5 and 13-14) does not require that sacrifice be limited to a single place, though these verses may have come to be understood that way. As a result, the dating of other biblical books on the basis of their dependence on Deuteronomy or their awareness of cult centralization must be reconsidered.

Deuteronomy and Centralization

in Vetus Testamentum




E.g. Gustav Hölscher“Komposition und Ursprung des Deuteronomiums,” ZAW 40 (1922) pp. 161 and 187; Juha Pakkala “Why the Cult Reforms in Judah Probably Did Not Happen” in One God—One Cult—One Nation Archaeological and Biblical Perspectives ed. Reinhard G. Kratz and Hermann Spieckermann (bzaw 405; Berlin 2010) pp. 201-35; Reinhard G. Kratz “The Idea of Cult Centralization and Its Supposed Ancient Near Eastern Analogies” in ibid. pp. 121-44; Katherine Stott “Finding the Lost Book of the Law: Re-reading the Story of ‘The Book of the ‘Law’ (Deuteronomy-2 Kings) in Light of Classical Literature” JSOT 30 (2005) pp. 152-69; Thomas C. Römer “Transformations in Deuteronomistic and Biblical Historigraphy: On ‘Book Finding’ and Other Literary Strategies” ZAW 109 (1997) pp. 7-10 and “Du Temple au Livre: L’idéologie de la centralisation dans l’historiographie deutéronomiste” in Rethinking the Foundations Historiography in the Ancient World and the Bible Essays in Honour of John van Seters ed. Steven L. McKenzie and Thomas Römer (bzaw 294; Berlin 2000) pp. 222-23; and Jonathan Ben-Dov Writing as Oracle and as Law: New Contexts for the Book-Find of King Josiah” JBL 127 (2008) pp. 224f.


G. von RadStudies in Deuteronomy p. 60 cf. p. 68.


J. N. M. WijngaardsThe Dramatization of Salvific History in the Deuteronomic Schools p. 24; cf. P. C. Craigie The Book of Deuteronomy (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1976) p. 217 and G. von Rad Deuteronomy pp. 16 and 90.


E.g. H. M. Orlinsky“The Tribal System of Israel and Related Groups in the Period of the Judges,” Essays in Biblical Culture and Bible Translation (New York 1974) pp. 66-77 and C. J. H. de Geus The Tribes of Israel An Investigation into Some of the Presuppositions of Martin Noth’s Amphictyony Hypothesis (Amsterdam 1976) especially pp. 113-19 and 193-95.


R. E. Clements“Deuteronomy and the Jerusalem Cult Tradition,” VT 15 (1965) pp. 300-12; cf. C. F. Burney The Book of Judges With Introduction and Notes (1918; reprinted New York: Ktav 1970) p. xlvi note.


R. E. Clements“Deuteronomy and the Jerusalem Cult Tradition” pp. 301-8.


Th. Ostreicher“Dtn 12:13f im Licht von Dtn 3:16f,” ZAW ns 2 (1925) pp. 246-47; cf. Bruce K. Waltke and M. O’Connor An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake 1990) §13.5.1f pp. 244-45.


So too Z. ZevitThe Religions of Ancient Israel pp. 286-87 where he also cites Gen 21:15; 22:2; and 2 Sam 2:18 as well as Deut 4:42; 18:6; and 25:5 which include the preposition min.

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