Peckham on the Deuteronomist

For my write-up today on Brian Peckham’s History and Prophecy, I have two items:

1.  On page 518, Peckham states that “The Deuteronomistic History was written after the fall of Jerusalem to situate the catastrophe in a systematic history of the world.”  This quote is important because it dates DtrH and refers to the Deuteronomist’s goal as a historian.

2.  On page 566, there is an unusual statement.  Peckham says that “the rebellions in the wilderness are an occasion to formulate laws that reflect and counteract them.”  Examples of laws that (according to Peckham) the Deuteronomist formulates include sacrifices to atone for unintentional sins, the condemnation of “high-handed and willful crimes”, the death penalty for violation of the Sabbath, the requirement that Israelites wear tassels to remind themselves of the law, the subordination of the Levites to Aaron as servants, and “rituals for purifying the people and rules for maintaining the cleanliness of the camp”.  These laws are in Numbers 15 and 18-19.  Peckham’s view is that the Deuteronomist emphasizes law, and that the Deuteronomist’s thesis is that Israelite disobedience of the law led to her downfall.

But Peckham is attributing to the Deuteronomist what many scholars have attributed to P.  Among such laws are purity rituals, and the subordination of the Levites to Aaron.  The latter is salient, for many scholars have argued that, whereas P in the Pentateuch elevates Aaron above the Levites, Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic History do not differentiate between the line of Aaron and the other Levites.  In my opinion, that is a sound observation, so I do not really understand why Peckham is going against the grain on this.

But Peckham does overlap with other scholars on some of the ideology of DtrH, such as a belief in individual punishment rather than collective punishment.

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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