In 2011, Joshua Berman published a contribution to the ongoing scholarly debate over the sources and dating of Deuteronomy: 'CTH 133 and the Hittite Provenance of Deuteronomy 13.' Berman asserted that a Hittite treaty text from the... more
In 2011, Joshua Berman published a contribution to the ongoing scholarly debate over the sources and dating of Deuteronomy: 'CTH 133 and the Hittite Provenance of Deuteronomy 13.' Berman asserted that a Hittite treaty text from the fifteenth century B. C. E. (Catalogue des Textes hittites [CTH] 133) provides a closer parallel to Deut 13 than does the seventh century Neo-Assyrian text commonly known as the Vassal Treaty of Esarhaddon or, more technically, Esarhaddon’s Succession Treaty (henceforth, EST). In his estimation, CTH 133 is therefore the preferred literary source for Deut 13. On the basis of those parallels with CTH 133, as well as other similarities that he finds between Deuteronomy and Hittite treaty forms, Berman contended that Deut 13 should be dated to the second millennium B. C. E. The significance of this argument goes to the heart of scholarly methodology and the historical critical method of modern biblical scholarship. If correct, Berman’s claim would overturn the standard scholarly position that the core of Deuteronomy dates to the seventh century, thereby abolishing an Archimedian point scholars use to date other biblical texts.
Because of these methodological implications, we included a brief discussion of Berman’s proposals in an article that recently appeared in this journal, 'Between the Covenant Code and Esarhaddon’s Succession Treaty: Deuteronomy 13 and the Composition of Deuteronomy' (2012). The focus of the article, consistent with the theme issue of the journal, was to preview some of the main issues in Deuteronomy research that we will address in the monograph we are preparing for the Yale Anchor Bible Reference Library, Deuteronomy and the Pentateuch. We therefore covered a wide range of methodological and interpretive issues, including a brief discussion of Berman’s proposals. We argued that Berman’s rejection of EST as a source for Deuteronomy does not take due notice of the unique parallels between EST and Deut 28 that lend weight to the evidence for the connection between EST and Deut 13. In addition, we rejected Berman’s claims of a source relationship between CTH 133 and Deut 13, and his dating of the text to the Late Bronze Age, because there is no clear evidence for contact between Israelite scribes and fifteenth century Hittite texts, either in the second millennium or later. Berman has now prepared a full-length rejoinder, which appears in this issue. What follows is our response to that rejoinder.
Berman has reframed the debate as a case study on the comparative method. In addition to responding to our specific criticisms of his work, Berman appears to have two main goals: 1) to advocate for a more inclusive consideration of extra-biblical texts as sources for biblical texts – one consequence of which, he assumes, would be a broader range of potential dates for such biblical texts; and 2) to define the criteria for identifying source texts by highlighting ways in which scholars incorrectly narrow their list of extra-biblical sources. His critiques are rather dramatic, and we have given them our full attention in this response. In the process, we have found that the primary and secondary sources on which Berman relies actually provide stronger arguments for our own views, both textually and at a theoretical level. The clearest way to examine these issues is to start with the specific textual arguments and claims Berman makes about the Hittite provenance of Deut 13, and then to step back and consider the larger theoretical structure of his position.
Keywords: Esarhaddon’s Succession Treaty, Vassal Treaty of Esarhaddon, canon formula, CTH 133, Joshua Berman, Covenant Code, Tel Tayinat, EST, VTE, Hittite treaty, biblical law, New Historicism, New Criticism, biblical scholarship, compositional history, Deuteronomy, succession, Assurbanipal, Deut 28, Dtn 28, Deut 13, Dtn 13, Pentateuch, law and narrative.
More Info: Journal of Ancient Judaism 4 (2013): 310–333.
The authors are preparing a volume for the Yale Anchor Bible Reference Library, Deuteronomy and the Pentateuch, which will examine the following key questions: (1) What is the date and historical context for the composition of... more
The authors are preparing a volume for the Yale Anchor Bible Reference Library, Deuteronomy and the Pentateuch, which will examine the following key questions: (1) What is the date and historical context for the composition of Deuteronomy? (2) What is Deuteronomy’s method of composition? (3) What is the relationship between law and narrative in Deuteronomy? (4) What is the intent of Deuteronomy vis-à-vis its Israelite sources? (5) What is the influence of cuneiform legal and treaty traditions upon Deuteronomy and its Israelite forebears? (6) What is Deuteronomy’s status within the compiled Pentateuch (and the larger biblical canon)? In this article, the authors summarize these issues and then examine Deut 13 and its relevance for dealing with each of them.
Keywords: Tel Tayinat, EST, VTE, Esarhaddon’s Succession Treaty, Vassal Treaty of Esarhaddon, canon formula, CTH 133, Joshua Berman, Covenant Code, Hittite treaty, biblical law, Deuteronomy, succession, Assurbanipal, Deut 28, Dtn 28, Deut 13, Dtn 13, Pentateuch, law and narrative.
More Info: Journal of Ancient Judaism 3 (2012): 123–140.
Please email me for a copy of the article (firstname.lastname@example.org) Leviticus 21:16–24 enumerate twelve blemishes that disqualify a priest from altar service. We argue that the Holiness Legislation’s laws against physically blemished... more
Leviticus 21:16–24 enumerate twelve blemishes that disqualify a priest from altar service. We argue that the Holiness Legislation’s laws against physically blemished priests serving in the sanctuary are fundamentally related to the Priestly myth’s larger characterization of the Israelite god as a superhuman king, its corresponding understanding of the cult, and, in particular, its views of divine perception. YHWH, whose great powers can effect both good and ill, must be attended by servants whose ministrations are as unobtrusive as possible. It is the inconspicuous quality of priestly officiation that protects these servants as they venture into close proximity with the deity. In the case of the priest without a blemish, the cultic vestments that are required during altar service successfully mitigate the deity’s gaze, functioning as a sort of camouflage for him. Yet these vestments do not sufficiently camouflage a priest with a blemish, and this priest’s physical defect attracts excessive and potentially dangerous divine attention. H’s prohibition against sanctuary service by blemished priests, like the requirement that the priests wear the prescribed, sacred vestments, is thus both concerned to maintain the deity’s royal expectations and preferences – what we will term here his “divine repose” – and to protect the priests who serve the divine sovereign.
More Info: Co-authored with Jeremy Schipper
Publication Name: Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel 2 (2013): 458-78 (appeared 2014)
More Info: Pages 369–86 in The Pentateuch: International Perspectives on Current Research. Forschungen zum Alten Testament. Edited by T. Dozeman, K. Schmid, and B. J. Schwartz. FAT 78. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011.
More Info: Pages 235-52 in Gazing on the Deep: Ancient Near Eastern and Other Studies in Honor of Tzvi Abusch. Edited by Jeffrey Stackert, Barbara Nevling Porter, and David P. Wright. Bethesda, Md.: CDL Press, 2010.
More Info: Pages 187-204 in The Strata of the Priestly Writings: Contemporary Debate and Future Directions. Edited by Sarah Shectman and Joel S. Baden. Abhandlungen zur Theologie des Alten und Neuen Testaments 95. Zürich: Theologischer Verlag, 2009.