The Crisis of Israelite Religion: Transformation of Religious Tradition in Exilic and Post-Exilic Times

By Bob Becking; Marjo C. A. Korpel | Go to book overview

John van Seters Chapel Hill — USA


In the Babylonian Exile with J
Between Judgment in Ezekiel and Salvation in
Second Isaiah

For over 25 years now I have been advocating the view that the nonPriestly corpus of the Tetrateuch, which I call the Yahwist for convenience and lack of a better term, is exilic in date. I have argued that it was a history written to expand the national tradition of the DtrH in order to give an account of Israel's origins and the beginnings of humanity itself. A similar view has been adopted by E. Blum with his conception of a D composition of the Pentateuch,1 but there are two important differences in our understanding of this non-P material that I want to stress.

The first is that I regard this author as un-Deuteronomistic in certain fundamental ways and therefore it seems misleading to give this work the new label of D composition. This may be demonstrated by a few simple examples. Basic to the Dtr perspective is the view that Deuteronomy is the Torah, the law of Yahweh that is indispensible and the basis of Israel's covenantal relationship with Yahweh. Yet J speaks of a quite different law in Exod. 20:22–23:33 that is the basis of the covenant that follows and he even calls it by the term ‘Book of the Covenant’, which is language borrowed from Deuteronomy to mean something quite different from the Deuteronomic Code. He also has God inscribe this law of the Covenant Code, and not the Decalogue, on the tablets of stone (Exod. 24:12), the same law that Moses has already written in the scroll. Again Abraham is spoken of by God as the father of his people who will be able to “charge his children and his household after him to keep the way of Yahweh by doing what is right and just” (Gen. 18:19). The language is from Deuteronomy's admonition to fathers to teach their children the Deuteronomic law (Deut. 6:5–9), but Abraham cannot teach his children Deuteronomy. Yet so long as he can teach them what is right and just that is enough for them to receive the promised blessing. And Abraham's own obedience to God's command to sacrifice Isaac is later described by God as obedience to “my charge, my commandments, my statues and my laws” (Gen. 26:5). The language is Dtr, as so many have observed,

1E. Blum, Die Komposition der Vätergeschichte (WMANT, 57), NeukirchenVluyn 1984; Idem, Studien zur Komposition des Pentateuch (BZAW, 189), Berlin 1990.

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