Role of Deuteronomistic History In Enhancing Biblical Undertanding Essay

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Richard Nelson's Presentation Of Deuteronomistic History


The beginning of DH's history saw him incorporate the existing book of Deuteronomy 1-3, 31, 34 where he furnished it with an enclosing framework. Joshua1-12, 23; Judges 2-16; I Samuel I through II Samuel 20; and I and II Kings are the books labeled the Deuteronomistic Historian (DH), an editor who managed to assemble items of older material from scribal in Israel's tradition. Since DH was an original author, his significant aggregate data was a coherent whole that gave it distinctive theological outlook. In his work, he recounted past events in a systematic manner and traced the interplay of cause and effect thus, explained the meaning and significance of recent developments for a readership that is contemporary.

The DH gives a pessimistic outlook where he gives a central interpretative theme of Israel's fate in the land being hinged on the obedience or disobedience of the nation to Moses' law. DH's final form is also apparent as it dates from early exile and reports on events leading to the death of Judah's last king. Hence, DH's purpose was to explain the overthrow of the nation that is seen as a divine punishment that is justified for the ethical misdeeds of people and their kings.

Originality of the material

The material presented is not original and that the original DH was written generations earlier, which was either during or after the reign of Josiah.

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As such, the DH was pieced together from other sources due to the perplexing tension present within two main theological themes, an optimistic and the other is mostly pessimistic. DH incorporated various earlier sources in writing this history, especially in Joshua and Samuel. Nonetheless, using the older sources made no significant changes to the literature since most of the sources used have been uncovered through methods of criticisms by historians. In Kings, we see DH using three sources (1 Kings 11:41; 14:19, 29) and for Joshua, he adapted previous collections of the conquest stories (Joshua 2-11).

Unifying techniques in the DH

The unifying techniques DH employs are both structural and thematic means for this sprawling work. The use of chronology is an important unifying method used and for the first part, Deuteronomy to I Kings 8, DH counts a 480-year timeline reaching from the Exodus (Egypt) to the building of Solomon's temple. This system has its heart in the book of Judges. The other chronology is based on the reigns of kings of Judah and Israel, and it begins with Saul's reign (I Sam 13:1) and David (II Sam 5:4-5). It later continues in the book of Kings from Solomon down….....

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Reference List:

Nelson, R.D. (2011). The Historical Books: Interpreting Biblical Texts Series. Nashville: Abingdon Press.

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