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Encyclopedia > Deuteronomist

The Deuteronomist (D) is one of the sources of the Torah postulated by the documentary hypothesis that treats the texts of Scripture as products of human intellect, working in time. (Supernatural views are presented at Documentary hypothesis.) Martin Noth argued that there was an underlying unity in language and cultural content of the books from Deuteronomy to 2 Kings (Noth 1943). He presented the persona of "The Deuteronomist", a single author who was using pre-Exilic material but was editing and writing in the age of exile, the mid 6th century BCE. The majority of scholars follow Noth's opinion, that the Deuteronomist also wrote the Deuteronomistic History (Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, and 1 & 2 Kings). Some suggest that the same source may also have written the account of Jeremiah. Others suggest that "The Deuteronomist" is a close-knit group of Temple scholars rather than a sole individual. Torah, (תורה) is a Hebrew word meaning teaching, instruction, or especially law. It primarily refers to the first section of the Tanakh–the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, or the Five Books of Moses, but can also be used in the general sense to also include both the Written... The documentary hypothesis is a theory proposed by many historians and academics in the field of linguistics and literary criticism that the Five Books of Moses (the Torah) are in fact a combination of documents from different sources rather than authored by one individual. ... Martin Noth (August 3, 1902 - May 30, 1968 was a German scholar of the Hebrew Bible who specialized in the pre-Exilic history of the Hebrews. ... The Babylonian captivity, or Babylonian exile, is the name generally given to the deportation and exile of the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. ...

It is thought that the Deuteronomic part of the Torah, and the Deuteronomistic History were originally composed as a single work, ever since the investigation of Martin Noth. Since Noth's work, some scholars attribute two separate stages to the text, a first (referred to as Dtr1) and second (referred to as Dtr2) edition of the text, although most still consider that both editions were the result of the same author. Martin Noth (August 3, 1902 - May 30, 1968 was a German scholar of the Hebrew Bible who specialized in the pre-Exilic history of the Hebrews. ...

The actual identity of the Deuteronomist is less secure than the body of his editing work: scholars postulate that the author was Baruch (Neriyah's son), Jeremiah's scribe, or possibly Jeremiah, due to the similarities in style between Jeremiah, and the inclusion in Jeremiah of direct (unattributed) quotes of D, as well as the affiliation of Jeremiah to the Shiloh priests, the time period at which Jeremiah lived.

This article describes the opinion of the documentary hypothesis without taking into account alternative opinions; see the documentary hypothesis article for details on the disputes to this theory


The documentary hypothesis is a theory proposed by many historians and academics in the field of linguistics and literary criticism that the Five Books of Moses (the Torah) are in fact a combination of documents from different sources rather than authored by one individual. ...

Origin of the Deuteronomist text

The first edition (Dtr1)

King Hezekiah centralised the religion and destroyed places and objects of worship that were outside of the control of the Jerusalem Temple and its priesthood. The Assyrian empire invaded Judah shortly after Hezekiah died, and gained suzerainity. Subsequent kings of Judah, owing allegiance to the Assyrians, restored the places and objects of worship outside the temple. However, Hezekiah's great grandson Josiah instituted a new reform. Hezekiah (which means whom God has strengthened) was king of Judah, the son of Ahaz (2 Kings 18:1; 2 Chronicles 29:1). ... Suzerainty refers to a situation in which a region or people is a tributary to a more powerful entity which allows the tributary some limited domestic autonomy but controls its foreign affairs. ... Josiah or Yoshiyahu (יֹאשִׁיָּהוּ supported of the LORD, Standard Hebrew Yošiyyáhu, Tiberian Hebrew Yôšiyyāhû) was king of Judah, and son of Amon and Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. ...

According to the narratives of 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles, in 622/621 BCE, Josiah's high priest Hilkiah found part of the Torah in the temple, a mainly spartan and empty building. In reaction to the text, King Josiah again centralised the religion, and destroyed places and objects of worship that were not the Jerusalem Temple. Since before the 5th century scholars (such as Jerome) have insisted that the text found by Hilkiah was the law code of Deuteronomy. Scholars allege that the text was written at Josiah's instigation and "found" to justify his actions, particularly since the text claims Moses had left it next to the Ark of the Covenant in the temple (and thus it sat in a spartan room with two giant statues next to a (holy) box in a building used every day by the priests for five hundred years without anyone apparently noticing it). The Books of Kings (also known as [The Book of] Kings in Hebrew: Sefer Melachim מלכים) is a part of Judaisms Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible. ... (Redirected from 2 Chronicles) The Book of Chronicles is a book in the Hebrew Bible (also see Old Testament). ... , by Albrecht Dürer Jerome (ca. ... A late 19th-century artists conception of the Ark of the Covenant, employing a Renaissance cassone for the Ark and cherubim as latter-day Christian angels The Ark of the Covenant (ארון הברית in Hebrew: aron habrit) is described in the Hebrew Bible as a sacred container built at the command...

According to the documentary hypothesis, the Priests of Shiloh wrote the law code to support their views. The code was written to support the king, a centralised religion, Levites generally rather than just Aaronids, and a balance on the king's power (for example by supporting a militia rather than an organised army) due to the way in which kings had previously treated them.

D then created, according to the hypothesis, a history of rulers, judging them by their actions according to the code, culminating in Josiah. D inserted the law code at the start, framed as Moses' last words since D was not trying to change the pre-existing JE account. The purpose of this was to show that Josiah's rule was an act of God, Josiah being the hero to save Israel - a Moshiach. Josiah was the only person described as being comparable to Moses. The story of Josiah reflected the wording given by Moses in D, terms such as do not turn, right or left, and none arose like him, and Love god with all your heart, all your soul, and all your might, are only ascribed to or of Moses and to or of Josiah in the whole of the Deuteronomical history. Parallels are not described between Moses and other kings. The concept of the messiah in Judaism is briefly discussed in the Jewish eschatology entry. ...

D's history was composed by redacting earlier originally independent sources, and a few lines of text to provide a more continuous narrative, which included

  • The Deuteronomistic law code
  • The story of Joshua
  • The story of Jericho
  • The story of the conquest of the land
  • The story of Deborah
  • The story of Gideon
  • The story of Samuel
  • The story of Saul
  • The story of David
  • The Court History of David, a text composing most of 2 Samuel
  • The Davidic Covenant, a tradition concerning the perpetuity of the reign of King David's descendents.
  • The history of the Kings of Israel
  • The history of the Kings of Judah

The book referred to as Joshua was redacted together by associating each event with Joshua; the book of Judges by comparing each protagonist with the law code between the stories; the book of Kings by alternating between a king of Israel and that of Judah (both were originally covered in separate texts). At each alternation in the book of Kings, a description of the king's parentage, and an accession date compared to the reign of the king ruling in the other nation, is given. According to most modern Biblical critics, this is one of the source documents of the Hebrew Bible. ...

The second edition (Dtr2)

Unfortunately, Josiah died when he traveled to Megiddo to fight the Egyptian army (in a battle so famed among the Jews that it established Meggido as the traditional location for the eschatological final battle between good and evil) which was passing through Judah to support the Assyrians in their conflict with Babylon. The next kings, the first a son of Josiah, reversed the reform of Josiah, once more restoring the non-centralised holy places. The site of ancient Megiddo Megiddo מגידו is a hill in Israel near the modern settlement of Megiddo, known for theological, historical and geographical reasons. ... In the Battle of Megiddo of 609 BC, the forces of Egypt fought those of the Kingdom of Judah. ... Albrecht Dürer - Four horsemen of the Apocalypse This article is about the concept of the end of the world. ...

Egypt conquered Judah and exiled the king, replacing him with another of Josiah's sons, who was subsequently killed in a Babylonian attack and replaced by his son. Babylon eventually gained control of Judah, appointing a new king, who was a third son of Josiah. The king, after 10 years, rebelled against the Babylonian emperor Nebudchadnezzar, resulting in Nebudchadnezzar destroying Jerusalem, killing the whole of the king of Judah's family, and blinding and exiling the king himself. Nebuchadnezzar (or Nebudchadrezzar) II (ca. ...

Babylon decided to appoint a governor who would be favourable to it, choosing an anti-Assyrian from Judah. However, those connected to the family of King David, the royal dynasty that Nebudchadnezzar had extinguished, were so offended by this appointment that they assassinated the govenor. The denizens of Judah, afraid of Nebudchadnezzar's response, almost entirely chose to become refugees, initially in Egypt. Nebudchadnezzar chose to burn Jerusalem to the ground, destroy the temple, and exile the remaining nobility and officials to Babylon as slaves. Judah no longer existed.

This posed some problems for the first edition of D. In its histories, it had implied that the dynasty of king David had been promised by God that it would rule Judah forever. In its text, it describes certain things as still existing which Nebudchadnezzar had destroyed. It describes Josiah as the saviour of Israel, but he had been killed, and his reforms undone.

D was edited. D couldn't be completely rewritten because the text was relatively well known. The text was added to by scattering references to the threat of dispersion of Judah amongst the nations should they disobey the law code. The promise of the survival of the royal family's reign was also ammended to imply that, although it was true, it would be irrelevant if Judah did not exist to be ruled over. A curse was added threatening to send Judah back to Egypt, as had happened.

Another set of additions were references to the command against worshipping other Gods, including a description of God's last words to Moses, which describes the future destruction of Judah for this very crime. Additions were made to the histories emphasising the consequences of the undoing of Hezekiah's reforms that had occurred amongst his descendents.

Finally, a few additional sources appear to have been added into the text, and expanded on by other additions, specifically

  • The Song of Moses, a poem existing in Deuteronomy 32:1 - 43
  • The Blessing of Moses, in Deuteronomy 33:2 - 27

Passages ascribed to the Deuteronomist in the Torah

Texts in the First Edition (Dtr1)

The parts of Deuteronomy (no other part of the Torah is usually considered to contain this source) usually identified as Dtr1 are

  • 1, 2, 3, 4:1 - 24, 4:32 - 49, 5, 6, 7, 8:1 - 18, 9, 10, 11 (Moses' introduction)
  • 12(chapter) - 27(chapter) (Law code, covenant ceremony)
  • 28:1 - 35, 28:38 - 62 (Blessings and curses)
  • 28:69, 29:1 - 20, 29:28, 30:11 - 13, 31:1 - 8 (Moses' conclusion)
  • 31:9 - 13, 31:24 - 27 (The torah)
  • 32:45 - 47, 34:10 - 12 (Moses' death)

Texts added in the Second Edition (Dtr2)

The parts of Deuteronomy usually identified as Dtr2 are

  • 4:25 - 31, 8:19 - 20 (Moses' introduction)
  • 28:36 - 37, 28:63 - 68 (Blessings and curses)
  • 29:21 - 27, 30:1 - 10, 30:14 - 20 (Moses' conclusion)
  • 31:16 - 22, 31:28 - 30, 32:1 - 43 (Song of Moses)
  • 33:2 - 27 (Blessing of Moses)

The resulting Second Edition (D)

The parts of Deuteronomy usually identified as D are

  • 1(chapter) - 30(chapter), 31:1 - 13, 31:16 - 22, 31:24 - 30, 32:1 - 47, 33:2 - 27, 34:10 - 12 (Almost all of Deuteronomy)


  • Noth, Martin, The Deuteronomistic History, 1943.
  • Nicholson, E.W. Preachinng to the Exiles, 1970.
  • Nelson, R.D. The Double Redaction of the Deuteronomistic History, 1983.
  • Fox, Robin Lane, ''The Unauthorized Version : Truth and Fiction in the Bible, 1992.

  Results from FactBites:
Deuteronomist - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1492 words)
He presented the persona of "The Deuteronomist", a single author who was using pre-Exilic material but was editing and writing in the age of exile, the mid 6th century BCE.
The Deuteronomist generally exhibits a stance similar to those of the Jahwist and Elohist, so it may be that the Deuteronomist's work was intended to be read in parallel with JE, rather than instead of it.
In contrast to the priestly source, the Deuteronomist cuts out the obviously pro-Aaronid tales, such as that of Aaron's flowering staff and that of the appointment of the Levites, but includes the story of the Golden Calf, which is the main story from JE that casts Aaron in a negative light.
  More results at FactBites »



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