Academic journal article Journal of Biblical Literature

"Until This Day" and the Preexilic Redaction of the Deuteronomistic History

Academic journal article Journal of Biblical Literature

"Until This Day" and the Preexilic Redaction of the Deuteronomistic History

Article excerpt

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(ProQuest Information and Learning: ... denotes non-USASCII text omitted.)

Over a century ago Abraham Kuenen identified two distinct strata in the book of Kings.1 In one stratum, he observed that the phrase "until this day" both confirms realities no longer true after the exile and occurs in passages bound to the very structure of the book (2 Kgs 8:16-24; 14:1-7; 16:1-9)-a structure Kuenen attributed to a Deuteronomistic redactor (his Rd^sup 1^).2 His analysis of other occurrences of "until this day" in Kings led him to conclude that they all derived from Rd^sup 1^-a conclusion that was subsequently embraced by Julius Wellhausen, and, when combined with Martin Noth's landmark study a half century later, helped lay the foundation for Frank Moore Cross's theory of a dual redaction of the Deuteronomistic History (DH).3 Since Cross's original studies, the theory of a dual redaction of the DH has had numerous defenders and now stands on firmer evidentiary ground.4 The purpose of this article is not to retread this ground but to pick up where Kuenen left off in identifying the source of "until this day" not just for Kings but for the whole of the DH. Although the only study devoted solely to this phrase has argued that "until this day" derives from "many different redactors,"5 there are compelling reasons to assign this phrase to one redactor: the Deuteronomistic Historian (Dtr), who employed "until this day" as his own personal witness to geographical, political, and cultic realities mentioned in his sources that still existed at the time of his historical enterprise. Moreover, the evidence of "until this day" indicates that the Dtr was active during the reign of Josiah and that his preexilic history contained most of what we now have before us (as Cross originally argued). Finally, the Dtr's use of "until this day" suggests that, when compiling the DH, he sought to represent the interests of both the Judean monarchy and the Levitical priesthood.

I. The Redactional Nature of "Until This Day" in the Deuteronomistic History

In his 1963 JBL article "A Study of the Formula 'Until This Day,'" Brevard S. Childs demonstrates on linguistic grounds that "until this day," in nearly all of its occurrences, "has been secondarily added as a redactional commentary on existing traditions."6 In light of its redactional nature, Childs argues that the biblical historian employed "until this day" much as his Greek and Roman counterparts used similar formulae: to validate "some aspect of the tradition which can still be verified in his own time." Childs writes: "In our opinion, the use of the formula in the OT is closely paralleled to this latter usage, namely, to the historian's personal witness." To answer the question of who is responsible for this formula of personal testimony, Childs turns to source analysis, where he observes that "until this day" appears across a variety of literary strata. This variety is nowhere more obvious than in the books of Kings, about which Childs writes:

The formula appears in material most likely from the source styled the "Book of the Acts of Solomon" (1 Kgs 11:41; cf. 8:8; 9:21), from material in the "Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah" (2 Kgs 8:23; cf. 2 Kgs 8:22; 10:27, etc.), from a collection of prophetic narratives (2 Kgs 2:2), and only infrequently from the Deuteronomistic historian (2 Kgs 17:23, 34).

Based on the diversity of sources in which "until this day" appears, Childs concludes that "the formula reflects the age of many different redactors."

Since Childs's study, the redactional nature of "until this day" has been widely accepted, and even further elucidated, by subsequent scholarship.7 However, Childs's determination that "until this day" derives from a variety of different redactors has not received much attention, even though his reasons for this conclusion are problematic. …

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