Deuteronomistic history

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The books of the DtrG

As a Deuteronomistic History (or Deuteronomistic History, abbreviated DtrG) , the historical-critical biblical scholarship designates an assumed theological editing that linked some books of the Bible with one another. The main processing took place in the 6th century BC. Took place, probably in Babylonian exile ; however, at least parts of it may also have been written or edited in Palestine .


The name Deuteronomists refers to the "Deuteronomy", the 5th book of Moses .

Biblical research has spoken of a deuteronomist since the four-source theory for the emergence of the Pentateuch, formulated in the 19th century . Its main representative Julius Wellhausen took the view for the first time that the books from the Book of Joshua to the 2nd Book of Kings were subject to a joint editing, the theology of which is similar to that of Deuteronomy . This name for the 5th book of Moses goes back to the Greek Septuagint , which is the Hebrew words for "the copy of this instruction" ( Hebrew מִשְנֵה הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת mischnê hattôrâ hazzot ) translated into Dtn 17:18 as “this second law” (τὸ Δευτερονόμιον ( Deuteronómion ) τοῦτο). Thereafter, this biblical book was given the name Deuteronomy in the Christian Bible canon .

The Old Testament scholar Martin Noth spoke for the first time of a deliberately planned Deuteronomic history , who presented this thesis in his studies on the history of tradition in 1943 and explained it in the sense of Wellhausen as an overarching editing of the book Deuteronomy up to 2 Kings. Within this literary context, he demonstrated several connecting stylistic elements and continuous thematic complexes. He found the editorial interest in a great historical review concentrated in the great retrospective speeches of important biblical persons ( Moses in Dtn 32f, Joshua in Jos 23, David in 2 Sam 23). He found the theological starting point of the editorial team in the demand for cult centralization in Deut 12 and in the 1st commandment (Ex 20.2 / Deut 6). Noth called the editor , whom he saw responsible for the uniform design of the book group, "Deuteronomist". He conceived his history during his exile (586-538 BC) in order to theologically process the loss of Israel's statehood and the destruction of the Jerusalem temple by the Babylonians.

The Old Testament scholar Alfred Jepsen deepened Noth's thesis in his study The Sources of the Book of Kings. It was written in 1939, but could not be published until 1953 (2nd edition 1956). In further editorial history work on the sources of the book of kings , he took into account recent archaeological discoveries.

Some of the basic assumptions of this work have been scientifically recognized to a large extent to this day, albeit modified in many ways. Rudolf Smend , Walter Dietrich and Lothar Perlitt assumed at least three successive editorial offices of a Deuteronomist school or movement.

The deuteronomistic editorial team

The historical location of the Deuteronomist (s) is the situation in Israel after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 586 BC. Chr. They wanted to show that Israel has inflicted this disaster itself and not the impotence of his God, but on the contrary its history-directing power, owe.

To this end, the editors inserted speeches composed at all historical turning points in Israel's history, which they put into the mouths of the leaders of God's people. Martin Noth included:

  • Deut 1,1–4,43: Moserede as a look back at the time of the desert and land conquest, which is supposed to show God's loyalty to the promises of the father
  • Deut. 31: Moses' farewell sermon, establishment of Joshua as his successor and writing of the law
  • Deut. 34: Report of the death of Moses
  • Jos 1: 2–9: God's commission to Joshua
  • Jos 22: 1-8: Joshua's speech to the East Jordanian tribes
  • Jos 23: Joshua's farewell speech
  • Ri 2,6ff: overview of the judge's time; Judg 2: 11-18: Looking ahead to the royal times
  • 1Sam 12: Samuel's farewell speech
  • 1 Kings 8: 14-21: Solomon's dedication to the temple ; 1 Kings 8: 22–53: Temple dedication prayer
  • 2 Kings 17: 7-23: fall of the northern kingdom of Israel as a result of the "sin of Jeroboam "
  • 2 Kings 22: 16f; 23.26f; 24,3f: Fall of the southern kingdom of Judah

These insertions form a historical theological guideline that runs through the entire story. In addition to them, the chronology links the context according to which 480 years should have passed from the exodus from Egypt to the start of construction of the first temple (Deut 1,3; 1 Kings 6,1).

The editors would then have found the following sources:

Intention, place and time of editing

The basic statement of the DtrG is the connection between obedience to the will of God revealed by God, proclaimed by Moses and written down by Joshua, which the prophets repeatedly recalled in the time of kings, the disobedience of kings and the people and the disaster that necessarily ensued in the history of Israel and Judas. With this the editors answered the questions of their readers and listeners in Babylonian exile about the causes and the meaning of the recent catastrophe of the loss of temples and land.

Noth assumed that 2 Kings 25: 27ff was the original ending of the work, so that it must have been written after 561. He stated that there was no hope for the future beyond the fall of the kingdom and therefore assumed that it would be drafted in Palestine, where the older sources were available to the editors .


Against the lack of prospects for the future, other researchers objected that the conception of Deuteronomy contained a promise: The chance of a renewal of Israel was linked to the observance of all commandments (Deut 29:28). The pardon of the last Judean king in exile - albeit without release - left a possible succession to the throne and return of the exiles open (2 Kings 25:30). The temple dedication prayer 1 Kings 8,46ff also counts on the answer to the prayer of the exiles, so that it could already assume that the temple would be rebuilt.

Alfred Jepsen, against Noth, assumed a longer independent prehistory of the royal books, which had already existed with the synchronistic royal chronicle and had been extended by a priest after 586 to include the ascension story of David up to the end of the royal period.

Rudolf Smend was the first to make it likely that the assumed overall editing of the history work (DtrG) must be distinguished from at least an editorial team that built in the prophets (DtrP) and an editorial team that measured the course of history against the law (DtrN). He assigned the speech to Jos 23 to the latter, so that this processing shift would have taken place in exile.

Walter Dietrich assigned 2 Kings 25.21b EU to the final editorial office  : So Judah was led away from his country. The following description of the situation of the Jews who remained in the country could have been made from the retrospective of those who had returned from exile.

The research situation has also become more complicated today with regard to the sources found and their further history. Open questions are the relationship between the theology of the DtrG and theologically related editorial additions in the Pentateuch and the deuteronomistic circles behind the Book of Jeremiah .


  • Hans Ausloos: The Deuteronomist's history: the role of the Deuteronomist in historical-critical research into Genesis Numbers . Brill, Leiden et al. 2015. ISBN 978-90-04-29676-3 .
  • Georg Braulik : Theories about the Deuteronomist History (DtrG) in the course of research, in: Erich Zenger et al. (Hrsg.): Introduction to the Old Testament. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 5 2004, pp. 191-202.
  • Alfred Jepsen : The sources of the king book. Hall: Niemeyer 1953.
  • Reinhard G. Kratz: The composition of the narrative books of the Old Testament (UTB 2157). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2000. ISBN 3-8252-2157-1
  • Martin Noth : Studies in the history of tradition. Halle: Niemeyer 1943.
  • Thomas C. Römer : The So-Called Deuteronomistic History. A Sociological, Historical and Literary Introduction. London, New York 2005 (Softcover 2007, ISBN 978-0-567-03212-6 )
  • Ernst Jenni : Two decades of research on the books Joshua to Kings. In: Theologische Rundschau (ThR) 27 (1961), 1–32, 97–146.
  • Arnold Nicolaas Radjawane: The Deuteronomistic History. A research report. In: ThR 38 (1974), 177-216.
  • Helga Weippert : The Deuteronomistic History. Its aim and end in recent research. In: ThR 50 (1985), 213-249.
  • Horst Dietrich Preuß : On the Deuteronomistic History. In: ThR 58 (1993), 229-264, 341-395.
  • Timo Veijola : Deuteronomism Research Between Tradition and Innovation. In: ThR 67 (2002), 273-327.391-424 and ThR 68 (2003), 1-44.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. see also Christl Maier: Jeremiah as a teacher of the Torah. Social commandments of Deuteronomy in updates of the Book of Jeremiah (= FRLANT research on religion and literature of the Old and New Testaments, issue 196). Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, Göttingen 2002