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Searching for Continuity. Laws and Narrative in Deuteronomy: Observations about Warfare-Legislation and War-Narrative

Pages 107 - 114



1 With many thanks to Dr. Steffen Jöris for correcting the English version.

2 See for instance a diachronic hypothesis about the genesis of the book with numerous bibliographical indications in E. Otto, Deuteronomium 1,1–4,43, HThK.AT, Freiburg 2012, 231–257.

3 This is an issue that is also present in the cultures of Israel's surrounding area, see for instance C. Wunsch, Legal Narrative in the Neo-Babylonian Trial Documents: Text Reconstruction, Interpretation, and Assyriological Method, in K.-P. Adam et al. (eds.), Law and Narrative in Neighbouring Ancient Cultures, FAT 2. 54, Tübingen 2012, 3–34.

4 The methodological observations in A. Bartor, Reading Law as Narrative. A Study in the casuistic Laws of the Pentateuch, SBL AIIL), Atlanta 2010, 7–8. 17–22 are particularly useful in this regard.

5 D. Markl, Narrative Rechtshermeneutik als methodische Herausforderung des Pentateuch, ZAR 11, 2005, 107–121.

6 See for more detail on this subject R. P. Knierim, Israel and the nations in the land of Palestine in the Old Testament, in: idem, The task of Old Testament Theology. Substance, Method, and Cases, Grand Rapids, MI 1995, 309–321and P. Noble, Israel among the Nations, HBT 15, 1993, 56–82.

7 E. Otto, Völkerrecht im Alten Orient und in der Hebräischen Bibel, in idem, Altorientalische und biblische Rechtsgeschichte. Gesammelte Studien, ed. by G. Braulik, BZAR 8, Wiesbaden 2008, 433–455presents some interesting observations about the role of international laws in the bible and in the ancient near east. He underlines the main problem of this kind of legislation: one cannot say anything about the concrete application of these laws.

8 S. Paganini, Deuteronomio, nuova versione, introduzione e comment, ILB 5, Milano 2012, 58–61offers some interesting observations about the relationship between laws and their utopic character.

9 S. Paganini, Deuteronomio (see above note 8) 484–486.

10 See on this topic the study of Z. Weisman, The Place of the People in the making of Law and Judgment, in D. P. Wright et al. (eds.), Pomegranates and Golden Bells. Studies in Biblical, Jewish, and Near Eastern Ritual. Law, and Literature in Honor of Jakob Milgrom, Winona Lake, IN 1995, 407–420. He concentrates his attention on the Book of Exodus but some observations about the role of the people in juridical procedure are also valid for the deuteronomic legislation.

11 The idea and the practical realization of the חרם is a much disputed topic. N. Lohfink's article about it (ThWAT III, 1982) can be considered as a good point of departure. In this short study it is only possible to list some of the most important contributions on this subject, where one can also find a lot of other bibliographical references: A. Bornapé, El problema del herem en el Pentateuco y su dimensión ritual, DavarLogos 4,1 (2005) 1–16; G. Braulik, Die Völkervernichtung und die Rückkehr Israels ins Verheißungsland. Hermeneutische Bemerkungen zum Buch Deuteronomium, in: M. Vervenne / J. Lust (Hg.), Deuteronomy and Deuteronomic literature, BEThL 133, Leuven 1997, 3–38; C. Schäfer-Lichtenberger, Bedeutung und Funktion von Herem in biblisch-hebräischen Texten, BZ 38, 1994, 270–275; W. Dietrich / C. Link: Die dunklen Seiten Gottes. Bd. 1: Willkür und Gewalt, Neukirchen 2002, 195–201.

12 See G. Braulik, The Destruction of the Nations and the Promise of Return: Hermeneutical Observations on the Book of Deuteronomy, VE 25, 2004, 46–67.

13 W. Vogels, The Literary Form of ‘the Question of the Nations’, EgT 11, 1980, 159–176.

14 See for bibliographical references note 11.

15 For a diachronic position about the development and the revision of the warfare laws see A. Rofé, The Laws of Warfare in the Book of Deuteronomy. Their Origins, Intent and Positivity, in: J. W. Rogerson (ed.), The Pentateuch, The Biblical Seminar 39, Sheffield 1996, 128–149.

16 In this way the Book of Deuteronomy tries to create a juridical basis for the right to possess the land. See also R. Heckl, Moses Vermächtnis. Kohärenz, literarische Intention und Funktion von Dtn 1–3, ABG 9, Leipzig 2004, 262–265.

17 U. Rüterswörden, Fremde Völker im Deuteronomium. Zu Deuteronomium 4,5–8, in U. Mell (Hg.), Der Eine Gott und die Geschichte der Völker. Studien zur Inklusion und Exklusion im biblischen Monotheismus (Biblisch-theologische Studien 123), Neukirchen-Vluyn 2011, 15–36.

18 In detail the connections are object of G. Braulik's study (see above note 12), 52–58.

19 R. D. Nelson, Herem and the Deuteronomic Social Conscience, in Vervenne / Lust, Deuteronomy (see above note 11) 39–54.

20 C. Schäfer-Lichtenberger, JHWH, Israel und die Völker aus der Perspektive von Dtn 7, BZ 40, 1996, 195–218.

21 Y. Hoffman, The Deuteronomistic concept of the herem, ZAW 111, 1999, 196–210.

22 E. Otto, Völkerrecht (see above note 7) 447–450.

23 E. Otto, Krieg und Frieden in der Hebräischen Bibel und im Alten Orient. Aspekte für eine Friedensordnung der Moderne, ThFr 18, Stuttgart 1999, 98–107.

24 On this topic see also the study of G. Braulik, Gott kämpft für Israel. Zur Intertextualität der Deuteronomistischen Landeroberungserzählung mit Exodus 1–14, BZ 55, 2011, 209–223.

25 This is a very important methodological issue for the correct understanding of the entire book. See also E. Otto, Rechtshermeneutik in der Hebräischen Bibel. Die innerbiblische Ursprünge halachischer Bibelauslegung, ZAR 5, 1999, 75–98.


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