McCarter, Cogan on II Samuel 7, I Kings 8

I haven’t written for some time about my paper on II Samuel 7 and I Kings 8:1-30. I’ve been getting my other assignments done, some of which took me a very long time. But I hope I can get this paper done this month, so I can do my comps this coming school year and then move out of Cincinnati to live with family, since this is my last year to receive student loans.

My paper is for a class on Intertextuality. I’m still trying to crystalize my topic, and I’ll probably meet with my professor within the next two weeks. At the moment, I’m looking at how I Kings 8 interacts with II Samuel 7, and how the Deuteronomist edits both chapters.

The Anchor Bible commentaries have helped me immensely. From P. Kyle McCarter’s commentary on II Samuel, I get this: The earliest layer of II Samuel 7 dates close to the time of David. In it, David wants to build God a temple, and God rewards him with the promise of an everlasting dynasty. This is an unconditional covenant on God’s part, since God will punish David’s descendants for their disobedience rather than removing them from the throne, as God did with Saul.

Then, a prophetic voice added a part that said God never wanted to live in a temple, from the time he brought the Israelites up to Egypt until David. This is the same author who had problems with kingship. McCarter dates him sometime to the early monarchy.

Then, the Deuteronomist adds his stuff. He says the house will be built for God’s name, and that Solomon will build it. At the end of the chapter, he tags on David’s prayer, which incorporates the chapter into the Deuteromistic History as a whole (Joshua-II Kings). The Deuteronomist focuses on the central sanctuary and the monarchy, and he also thinks that the house is for God’s name, meaning God doesn’t literally live there.

Regarding I Kings 8, my impression right now is that the Deuteronomist added a lot to it. Not all of it is from his hand, for v 4 refers to the priests and the Levites, a distinction the Deuteronomist did not make. But vv 15-29, the part that actually interacts with II Samuel 7, contains many Deuteromistic ideas: the house being for God’s name, meaning God doesn’t literally dwell there; the ark containing the covenant of God rather than serving as God’s throne; Solomon fulfilling God’s promise to David in II Samuel 7; the relevance of the construction of the temple to Israel’s broader history.

If the Deuteronomist wrote v 16, then he may be subtly applying the prophetic part of II Samuel 7 to his own ideology. The prophetic part of II Samuel 7 said God didn’t want to dwell in the temple, so why’s David want to build him one? I Kings 8:16 states that, from the Exodus, God did not choose a city for his name. The focus is on a city for the central sanctuary, Jerusalem, which many scholars claim is a Deuteronomic theme.

There may have been a story about Solomon dedicating the temple, but the Deuteronomist came along and directly tied it to II Samuel 7. According to Mordechai Cogan, the author of the Anchor Bible commentary for I Kings, a priestly author then added stuff about God living in the sanctuary, and maybe also the parts that resemble the dedication ceremonies in Exodus. (I’ll have to recheck that).

There is a difference between II Samuel 7 and I Kings 8: In II Samuel 7, God’s promise to David is unconditional. In I Kings 8, it is conditioned on the kings’ obedience. Cogan says that the conditional parts are from Dtr2, who wrote during the exile, after the Davidic monarchy had fallen on account of its disobedience.

My professor dates Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomist to the exilic/post-exilic period, so I wonder how he’d deal with the above method. I’ll have to ask him.

Tomorrow or the next day, I want to look at how I Kings 8:15-29 interacts with II Samuel 7. Does it alter it in any way? Stay tuned!

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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