Hutton, review article of R.Müller, Königtum und Gottesherrschaft

Journal of Hebrew Scriptures - Volume 9 (2009) - Review Article

A review of:
Reinhard Müller, Königtum und Gottesherrschaft: Untersuchungen zur alttestamentlichen Monarchiekritik (FAT II/3; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2004). x +309 pages. Hardback. € 59.00. ISBN 978-3-16-148319-7.

The Georg-August-Universität Göttingen has a long-standing reputation of producing high-quality redaction-critical scholarship that repeatedly serves to advance our knowledge of the development of the biblical text. The volume under review continues to uphold this fine reputation. It is the product of a light revision of a 2003 dissertation written under the guidance of Rudolf Smend, and demonstrates the same exacting precision and breadth of textual control for which Smend’s students (e.g., Walter Dietrich, Timo Veijola, and Christoph Levin, to name only a few) are well-known. Having studied under Levin prior to his matriculation at Göttingen (p. vii), Müller is steeped in the Göttinger tradition, and this book is a worthy representative of the same.

In this volume, Müller examines the relationship between the human and divine kingships, and the development of that relationship, as it may be traced in the biblical text. While these modes of historical and theological leadership were generally seen as complementary, a few biblical texts represent these categories as mutually exclusive. The latter worldview—mutual exclusivity—is otherwise unknown from the ancient Near East, and therefore poses a considerable difficulty in interpretation. Müller’s stated project is to unpack this disparity in outlook and to analyze the various stages and turns taken in the idea’s process of development. After an overview of the major representatives in the debate (J. Wellhausen, K. Budde, M. Noth, W. Richter, F. Crüsemann, T. Veijola, C. Levin, U. Becker, G. Kratz;[1] pp. 3-10) and their respective positions on the date and historical milieu of the supposed “antimonarchic” passages, the study proceeds through a detailed and sometimes quite complex redaction-critical analysis of several so-called “Deuteronomistic” passages exhibiting an evaluative stance vis-à-vis the monarchy. In the order treated, these comprise Jotham’s fable in Judg 9:8-20 (ch. 1, pp. 12-34); Gideon’s (pre-emptive) abdication of any dynastic form of leadership in Judg 8:22-23 (ch. 2, pp. 35-92); the framework of Judges 8-9 as a whole (ch. 3, pp. 93-118); the various narratives of the institution of the monarchy belonging to Wellhausen’s purported “antimonarchic” narrative in 1 Samuel 8 (ch.4, pp. 119-47); 10:17-27 [ +11:1-15] (ch. 5, pp. 148-76); 12 (ch. 6, pp. 177-96); the “law of the king” in Deut 17:14-20 (ch. 7, pp. 197-213); and Joshua’s adjuration to monotheistic worship of YHWH in Joshua 24 (ch. 8, pp. 214-36). A helpfully concise and synthetic conclusion (pp. 237-49) is followed by a section of “Textpräparationen” (pp. 250-65) providing visual aids to understanding the redaction-critical implications of Müller’s analysis; a bibliography (pp. 266-80); and scripture, name, and subject indices (pp. 281-309).

This analysis bears some resemblance to the classic studies of W. Dietrich and T. Veijola, known to Anglophone students of the Deuteronomistic History as prime examples of the Göttingen school’s theoretical stance:[2] Müller begins each analysis with the same close-reading methodology, searching for syntactic and lexical clues betraying the text’s redactional seams, and only with the accumulated weight of evidence proceeds to delineate specific layers of redaction. However, Müller’s study diverges from these earlier exemplars in a few salient aspects as well. First, Müller has recognized the ambiguity and polysemy with which the term “redaction” has typically been used in scholarly analyses. In order to add precision to his study, Müller employs the term Redaktion (“redaction”) only to indicate the drawing together of extant sources (with, of course, the composition of additional connective material); complementarily, Bearbeitung (“reworking”, or the like), indicates the addition of new material to an extant text with no corresponding insertion of other extant material (p. 11). A second, and more important, divergent feature is his eschewal of the quintessential sigla—DtrG (=DtrH), DtrP, DtrN, etc.—employed in such studies over the last three decades. While Müller recognizes the work of a Deuteronomistic redactor during the exile (and thus, implicitly, a DtrG), he does not provide the subsequent layers of reworking with any conveniently descriptive sigla, preferring to provide full elaboration of each as it is discerned, and to allow each stratum of reworking to retain its own distinctive identity. At most, Müller designates these later layers as “Late-Deuteronomistic” strata; in this regard, his work is brought more into alignment with that of recent practitioners such as R. G. Kratz.[3] According to Müller’s analysis, there is no evidence for antimonarchic sentiment in Israel’s earliest history (as had been suggested by, e.g., F. Crüsemann, who found already in the 10th century a coherent rejection of kingship in favor of acephalous, tribal institutions on the basis of anthropological cognates.[4] Of the texts examined, claims Müller, only the fable of Jotham (Judg 9:8-20) derives from the monarchic period. A thorough and intricate reading of that text suggests that it is promonarchic, or at least, that it presents no ideal alternative to the monarchy; instead, the fable recognizes the intrinsic value of offices and services, and considers them as equal to—or greater than—kingship in importance (p. 29). While the anecdote may portray the kingship somewhat humorously, it bears no relationship to the theological rejection of kingship (pp. 34, 237-38).

The rest of the examined texts can be dated to the postmonarchic period (and the predominant majority to the postexilic, Persian period). This judgment arises as a natural conclusion from Müller’s analysis of the Judges framework, which begins with a literary analysis suggesting that the two separate units in Judg 8:22-23 and vv. 24-27 may be divorced from, and secondary to, the surrounding redactional material (pp. 37-42). There follows a discussion of the literary horizon of Gideon’s rejection of the kingship in 8:22-23 (pp. 42-45), in which Müller examines the conception of the kingship portrayed by the Judges framework (pp. 45-75). Two salient features characterize this framework: (a) its schematization of “Israelite” history into Heilsgeschichte, wherein the combined history of the tribes of Israel and Judah is assumed as a totality and theologized (pp. 45-47); and (b) the idealized vision of secular leadership as exercising deliverance (* ישׁע hiph) and facilitating “justice” (*שׁפט qal), whatever exactly is denoted by that term (pp. 47-64). In the stories of the major judges, these two lexemes function effectively as synonyms; generally speaking, *שׁפט therefore bears connotations of “battle leadership” and is not properly seated in the judicial world (e.g., pp. 50-51). In the cases of the minor judges, however, the required leadership designated as *שׁפט is more likely taken in the judicial sense (e.g., p. 54). Despite this difference, Müller traces both sets of judges to a common literary stratum: the Judges framework. The theological difference does factor into the analysis, however: the narratives of the major judges are attributable to extant material collected by the redactor, and the list(s) of the minor judges are assigned to the redactor’s own composition, constructed precisely for the literary context into which it/they were placed (pp. 58-59). The confusion concerning the number of lists of minor judges in the preceding sentence is not accidental, but rather demonstrates Müller’s significant departure from earlier models. As Müller himself recognizes, both Noth and Richter had attributed the names of the minor judges to a single list, subsequently split in two with the insertion of 10:6-12:6.[5] However, slight variations in the forms of each indicate that the two lists never comprised a single unit, providing Müller with the theoretical possibility of arguing that each was composed for its context by the redactor who constructed the framework as a whole.

Because he is able to find several commonalities between the portrayal of the judges (major and minor) and the kings (pp. 63-68), Müller concludes that the framework of Judges is ultimately favourably disposed towards the monarchy (p. 66). In light of this positive disposition, the clearly negative speech of Gideon (8:22-23) demonstrates a thematic augmentation of the Judges framework, calling into question the legitimacy of the monarchy as an institution, and exhibiting commonalities—although not necessarily a common origin—with other antimonarchic verses to be considered later (p. 68). Nonetheless, it must be stressed that this antimonarchic elaboration has only secondarily augmented what was originally a framework that was, all in all, favorably disposed towards the monarchy, presenting that institution as the goal towards which the period of the judges works (p. 92).

Completely secondary to the formation of the Judges framework is the addition of the Abimelek narrative in Judges 9 (pp. 93-118). This supplementation was performed through the insertion of the two interconnected motifs of Abimelek’s filiation to Jerubbaal, and to the seventy rulers of Shechem (particularly, through the addition of 8:31; 9:1aß, 2aα*, 3a, and 5a). In relating the seventy rulers of Shechem to the seventy sons of Gideon—originally distinct motifs—this reframing of the earliest Abimelek narrative also inserts the concomitant criticism that the protagonist was born of a Shechemite (i.e., non-Israelite) mother (8:31; pp. 103-104). Another layer of redactional work is responsible for the insertion and contextual reinterpretation of Jotham’s fable (pp. 108-117). In the context of the Abimelek story, the fable retains a reasonably promonarchic outlook, but does so with the caveat that individual despots could turn an essentially favorable institution into an occasion for self-destruction (see pp. 111-13). Even at this point, argues Müller, there is no simple antimonarchic tendency to be demonstrated in the earliest stages of the book of Judges.

The palpable ambivalence concerning the kingship in 1 Samuel 8-12 is similarly the product of diachronic development, according to Müller, and no demonstrably early section of this text can be shown to be inescapably antimonarchic in attitude. Rather, kingship is seen in the earliest stages of the text as the solution to wider social and international problems experienced by the Israelites (e.g., p. 125). Although some recent analyses have adjudged 1 Sam 8 + 10:17-27 to derive from two different hands,[6] Müller suggests that the thematic convergence of the two passages demonstrates their common origin (or, more specifically, the common origin of their respective original strata). The same “reworker” (i.e., Bearbeiter), he argues, crafted 8:1, 3-5, 22b; 10:17, 20, 21abα, 23b, 24-25—and notice here that Müller very carefully uses the verb bearbeiten and its cognate parts of speech (see, e.g., pp. 129, 138, 168, 243). In its basic form, this narrative was promonarchic, and viewed that institution as a possible solution to the abuse of judicial authority claimed by corrupt judges (pp. 126, 243). Yet, an increased sensitivity to the concerns of Judah’s Persian overlords occasioned a transformation of the ideal monarch into a model of kingship in 1 Samuel 8 + 10:17-27 that was no longer inimical to the Persians’ rule (pp. 146, 243). As in all the other passages, secondary additions that were increasingly skeptical of the monarchy were gradually introduced, until finally the most antimonarchic glosses or additions (e.g., 8:6b, 7a, 9b, 10, 18) were inserted by members of a school steeped in a Heilsgeschichtliche theology that conceived of human kingship as directly inimical to the divine kingship (pp. 244-45). This gradual development of increasingly antimonarchic rhetoric may be correlated to historical events during the 5th century BCE, during which Judah remained under the control of the Persian Empire and therefore experienced increasing suppression of its hopes for a resurgence of indigenous dynastic control (pp. 245-46).

Müller detects this same gradual development in and augmentation of Israelite thought in the traceable evolutionary history of the texts Deut 17:14-20 and Joshua 24. The original text of Deuteronomy 17 detailing the limitations of the kingship, which Müller confines to vv. 14, 15a, 16a, 17, 20aαb (pp. 199-202), already seem to have been inserted into an extant text in a way that presupposes the Heilsgeschichtliche meta-narrative of Exodus and Conquest-Period of the Judges-Installation of the Monarchy. In short, for Müller this addition of Deut 17:14-20* has as a forgone conclusion the presence of an already late-Deuteronomistic Judges framework (pp. 203-204). This Deuteronomistic law conceptualizes the monarchy as limited, but nonetheless (or perhaps therefore) as a positively valued institution (pp. 206, 246-47). But with the increase in antimonarchic sentiment described above, the (purportedly) demonstrably late passages 1 Samuel 12 and Joshua (23-)24 consolidate the antimonarchic position of the Persian period. The latest texts, argues Müller, attempt to provide a vision for governmental structures in the wake of an Israelite monarchy (and specifically, within the provincialization of Persian-period Judah; p. 248). Increasingly, and with devastating results for the institution of the monarchy itself, the theologically-grounded tradents of the so-called “Deuteronomistic History” no longer allow kingship to hold its mediating place between God and people; the king is retroactively relegated to a much humbler position within the Israelite community, and placed under the law (pp. 189, 213, 248).

As the foregoing recapitulation suggests, Müller’s redaction-critical work is careful, exacting, and precise. The book comprises a veritable treasure-trove of fine lexical and syntactic observations, all of which approach the salient problems in understanding the composition-history of the Deuteronomistic History or Enneateuch. Many fascinating and challenging observations grace the pages of the book; two of the more intriguing observations illustrate this fact. First, Müller makes the commonsensical argument, essentially following Eissfeldt,[7] that the tradition of Saul’s selection by lot (1 Sam 10:20-21abα) was necessarily a separate tradition from that concerning his selection by oracular designation, which was dependent on his height (vv. 21bß-23). Yet Müller pushes the argument one step further: although Noth had relegated vv. 20-21abα to the (Deuteronomist’s) later editorial work,[8] Müller argues with conviction that it is, in fact, vv. 21bβ-23 that should be considered the later addition. In order to provide a cause for Saul’s concealment, the text requires knowledge of the secondary addition of Saul’s anointing in 1 Sam 10:1—Saul had to have reason to know this was coming (pp. 159-60). A second (and similarly astute) observation comes with Müller’s suggestion that the phrase ושׁאול לכד המלוכה על־ישׂראל in 1 Sam 14:47) hints at a tradition in which Saul seizes control over an already established kingdom (pp. 155–56)—as Müller correctly observes, such a tradition would run counter to the entire scope of the present text in which the monarchy is established with Saul at its head.

Yet several conclusions of the book remain open for discussion and criticism as well. While Müller recognizes the necessary subjectivity and circularity of the enterprise (e.g., pp. 52, 167), I remain unconvinced that his various attempts at escape from the hermeneutical circle have entirely succeeded. Although the many points of my disagreement with Müller cannot be enumerated fully here, they can be roughly gathered into several categories. A few of these categories are broad and relatively impressionistic, and require only cursory mention.

For example, Müller adheres closely to the Göttinger tradition in equating the redactional situation of DtrG with the postmonarchic period (p. 34).[9] This stance is found, for example, in such a priori claims as Assyria and Babylonia being in the background of the deliverer narratives (pp. 47, 90). I have argued elsewhere in somewhat greater detail—although the project was not dedicated to this argument—that while the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem certainly comprises an adequate period during which interpretive value could have been added to such legenda, it does not comprise the necessary point of the legends’ composition.[10] Stated differently: although the narratives of the Judges would have provided meaningful literary encouragement to the Judahites in light of the destruction of Jerusalem, the attendant encouragement may have been the intended effect resulting from the application of a new hermeneutical strategy to a much older text. The depredations of Assyria on the northern kingdom may equally have comprised a new opportunity for a reevaluation and new appropriation of legenda that had come into existence long before the immediate appearance of the great empires in Israel’s political worldview.

A second impressionistic observation on the book’s methodology focuses on Müller’s frequent presumption that the literary priority is clear. Literary dependence is a difficult proposition to prove, as studies arguing for the presence of allusion in biblical texts—over against synchronic “intertextual” readings—make clear. One of the hallmarks of studies of allusion is the claimed necessity of determining the transformation (if any) that occurs between the “marked” (i.e., donor) text and the “marking” (i.e., borrower) text—but recognition of the direction of this transformation has as a prerequisite a clear understanding of the development in the thematic relationship between the two texts.[11] While in some cases Müller is able to make such a demonstration, there are other points at which literary dependence—particularly on Joshua 24—has been asserted, but not in my mind conclusively proven (examples by which I was not entirely convinced occurred on pp. 39, 43, 52, 90, 126-27, 153, 156-57, 172, 186, and 190—this is not to say that they are incorrect, but rather that the argument in each case has not been made as fully as it might have been).

Two of Müller’s arguments in particular cannot be handled in such cursory fashion. In each of these cases, I have attempted to treat the arguments with a bit more precision:

METHODOLOGICAL CIRCULARITY. A critical and very thorough reading of 1 Samuel 8 (pp. 119-47) demonstrates the difficulty of assigning passages to any single valence (i.e., pro- or antimonarchic) without a thorough exegetical study of the passages at hand; for this Müller is to be commended. Unfortunately, at times, the ambiguity clearly engendered by multiple redactional strata renders inopportune the separation of that stratification in cases where context already affects the verse’s valence. It is sometimes difficult to determine a verse’s (or a half- or quarter-verse’s) stance toward the monarchy without context; but the project requires the separation of verses from their contexts. Some of Müller’s bolder judgments thus come under suspicion.

In my mind, the most problematic example of this circularity is Müller’s limitation of the Grundschrift of 1 Samuel 8 to vv. 1, 3-5, and 22b (pp. 120-30), which serves as the foundational premise upon which all subsequent assessment of compositional stratification in 1 Samuel 8; 10:17-27; 12 is performed. While I agree with Müller (following Veijola) that the chapter need not have participated in any sort of antimonarchic stance at its earliest stratum (p. 120), I do so on completely different grounds. Müller argues (pp. 120-21) for the natural coherence of the installation of Samuel’s sons and the elders’ subsequent request for a king (vv. 1, 3-5); correspondingly, the outlook on the kingship is positive, since the institution will serve as the solution to the detrimental miscarriage of justice perpetrated by Samuel’s sons, themselves the beneficiaries of their father’s nepotism.

However, an alternative separation of verses yielding a relatively promonarchic stance can be imagined, if not proven: if the sons’ evil actions (vv. 3, 5aß) are dissociated from the elders’ request for a king (v. 5aαb), there is nothing inherent to the narrative necessitating the sons’ presence there. Such an omission would occasion the excision of vv. 1b and 2 from the Grundbestand as well. Müller (correctly) connects the terms שׁפט in v. 1b and משׁפט in v. 3 with the juridical responsibilities of the minor judges (see above), but then attempts to use this datum to anchor the promonarchic Grundbestand in a secondary relationship to the Covenant Code (esp. Exod 23:6, 8), which forbids “perverting justice” נטה* + משפט and “taking bribes” לקח* + שחד, both expressions appearing in v. 3b (p. 126; see also p. 243).[12] However, if vv. 1b, 2-3, 5aß are to be accounted for as redactional additions (as I would argue), then the elders’ request for a king “to judge [them] (לְשָׁפְטֵנוּ vv. 5, 6)” may be anchored more firmly within the literary horizon of the framework surrounding the major judges, in which—as Müller himself noted—שׁפט takes on the connotations of group leadership in battle. This reading, of course, transforms the (promonarchic) request for a king as a judicial officer replacing the nepotistically installed and thoroughly corrupt judiciary officials into a (promonarchic) request for a king who will take over political and military operation in Samuel’s absence after his death:

(1a) When Samuel had become old, (4) all the elders of Israel gathered and they came to Samuel at Ramah (5aαb) and they said to him, “Look, you’ve grown old; now, give us a king to lead us (לְשָׁפְטֵנוּ), like all the other nations (possess).”

Moreover, Müller concludes that the natural ending to his Grundbestandrests in 8:22b, wherein Samuel dismisses the gathering, but this ending is non sequitur to the foregoing verses in his reconstruction, and depends overtly on the as-yet-unstated assumption that the texts in 1 Samuel 8* + 10:17-27* were composed specifically for their respective contexts (p. 163). Yet upon removing this assumption, we might recognize the provisional truth of Müller’s assertion that 1 Sam 10:17-27 forms the continuation (Fortsetzung) of the elders’ request for a king (p. 129). With no presuppositions concerning the “re-worked” (bearbeitet) nature of 1 Samuel 8; 10:17-27, there is no need to assign Samuel’s dismissal (8:22b) and reconvening (10:17) of the petitioners to the original literary stratum. It would be just as intelligible—and easier as well—to suggest that we have here a single, extant episode of the elders’ request for the installation of a king and Samuel’s immediate assent—with or without YHWH’s instruction—carried out in 1 Sam 10:17-27*, which, when combined with 1 Sam 9:1-10:16* + 11:1-15* was split in two and framed with redactional material that had to account for the privacy of Samuel’s meeting with Saul. On this schema, 8:22b and much of 10:17-19* are nothing more than redactional additions that attempt to alleviate this tension. The story begun in 8:1, 4, 5aαb may well pick up as late as 10:20, wherein Samuel “drew near each tribe of Israel” ויקרב שׁמואל את כל־שׁבטי ישׂראל. The variation between the appearance of “elders” in the first half of the episode (8:4) and the “tribes” in the second half (10:20) can be explained in a number of ways. Most expedient is to claim that an original כל־זקני ישׂראל in 10:20 was changed under pressure from the surrounding redactional verses, in which the שׁבטי ישׂראל figured prominently.[13] In short, all this is to argue that Müller’s composition-critical judgments remain fairly speculative, as in many cases they are based precisely on the same criteria of pro- or antimonarchism that purports to be under investigation. I remain unconvinced that the circularity of the argument has been broken in some places.

AMBIVALENT ABSOLUTE CHRONOLOGY. While it might appear a minor point, the telescoping of what have traditionally been considered two different sets of judges into a single literary horizon (i.e., the Judges framework) forms not only a central thesis in the book, but one of its foundational principles as well. Once Müller has crafted this argument, he then pins every subsequent chapter to its implications for the dating of the texts. Because the framework shows stylistic and thematic dependency (i.e., it is abhängig) on the Deuteronomistic framework of 1-2 Kings (i.e., the evaluations of the kings), he argues (pp. 60, 78-91) for a postexilic dating of the construction of the Judges framework, as well as for much of the secondary, reworked text that is critical of the monarchy. While the relative dating of many of Müller’s literary strata may be sustained in its broad contours (or at least permitted), the absolute dating of this material in the Persian period is predicated on several specious assumptions. First, the relegation of the entirety of the Deuteronomistic framework to the exilic period is a contentious subject in its own right, and can hardly be a foregone conclusion. This is, of course, one of the significant points of dispute between the Göttingen school—which tends to confine all the evaluations of the kings to a single literary stratum and assign that stratum to the period of the Babylonian exile[14]—and the Harvard school—which separates the last four evaluations (2 Kgs 23:32, 37; 24:9, 19) from the preceding ones, and assigns only these four to an exilic source (Dtr2).[15] Derivative from the Harvard school is a plausible three-stage alternative, proposed initially by H. Weippert, but sustained to varying degrees during subsequent years into the 1990’s by the likes of B. Barrick, A. F. Campbell, B. Halpern and D. Vanderhooft, and E. Eynikel, which proposes that an initial set of evaluations ended during Hezekiah’s reign. [16] This assignment of a proto-Deuteronomistic draft of Kings to the reign of Hezekiah comports well with Richter’s proposal of an early, northern “Book of Deliverers” (Retterbuch) presumably brought south to Judah in the aftermath of Samaria’s destruction, [17] but either of these latter schemata would move the terminus post quem of the (proto-)Deuteronomistic framework of kings upon which the Judges framework was based far earlier than allowed by Müller.

In turn, this movement raises the question as to the legitimacy of Müller’s assertion that the Judges framework was based on, rather than simultaneous with or antecedent to the (proto-)Deuteronomistic framework of 1-2 Kings (this point is to some extent an elaboration of one of the points made above). Müller seeks to demonstrate precisely the development from Kings to Judges (i.e., that the evaluations of the kings come first, rather than those of the judges), and his methodological acumen is well employed in this case, but the resultant chronological assessment is based on several prototypical assumptions (pp. 78-91).

(a) The first assumption, prevalent throughout the book and a touchstone for much recent Continental scholarship, [18] is that the centralization law (Zentralisationsgebot) and the first commandment (Einigkeitsgebot) can be used definitively as lynchpins for a late date (see also, e.g., pp. 69, 175, 229). This assumption permits a relative ordering of the Judges and Kings material, since Judg 2:11; 3:7, 12; 4:1; 6:1; 10:6; 13:1 use the phrase עשה* (את) הרע בעיני יהוה in a primarily cultic milieu, while the same phrase appears in the evaluations of the kings with a predominantly political sense (pp. 82–83). It is not entirely clear to me, however, that the evaluations of Israel’s and Judah’s kings can be separated from a standpoint that recognized a theological component of international and national relations as early as the 8th century, as expounded in the book of Hosea. [19] Moreover, as Christian Frevel has argued cogently in the years since Müller’s publication appeared, all the available archaeological evidence from the southern Levant (and particularly, Judah), points to limited polytheism until the 7th century, at which point markers of an increasing monolatrization of Judah occur. We are, archaeologically speaking, unable to place any non-Yahwistic cultic observance in post-exilic Yehud, suggesting that already by the period of the exile the first commandment had become a powerful organizational principle within Judah. [20]

(b) A second, and related assumption, is the relegation of Heilsgeschichte—and concomitantly, of any reference to “all” Israel—to exilic and postexilic theology. While enticing because of its simplicity, this assumption is entirely dependent upon Noth’s notion of a single exilic Deuteronomistic redactor (DtrG) working from the perspective of a disenfranchised Judahite, whose primary focus was the Heils- and Unheilsgeschichten culminating in the Babylonian exile, and the persistent (or, if Persian-period, actualized?) hope that Israel’s God would once again act decisively in history to rescue the “whole Israelite community.” However, if Cross’s isolation of an earlier, preexilic document culminating with the reign of Josiah is correct, then the “all-Israel” Heilsgeschichte of Joshua and Judges already has a temporal goal towards which it works. (This would, of course, also be the case with a proto-Deuteronomistic Hezekian document!) Whether or not Josiah’s political hegemony ever encompassed areas further north of the Benjaminite tribal region, it is clear that the ideological nature of texts concerning his rule asserted as much. Accordingly, concern for a Heilsgeschichtliche meta-narrative need not be located definitively in the postexilic period.

(c) Finally, it bears some mention that when Müller cites a cognate ancient Near Eastern or biblical text external to the Deuteronomistic History in order to bolster an argument concerning kingship, the text frequently derives from the 9th-7th centuries and not from the 6th-5th centuries. This observation is borne out through reference to a few examples, first from the ANE (α)-(γ), and then from the Bible (δ-ε): (α) In addressing the “Anger-formula (Zornesformel)” ויחר אף ב, which Müller wants to assign to the exilic- or postexilic-era Judges frame (e.g., Judg 2:14, 20; 3:8; 10:7), he cites as a comparison the ninth-century Mesha inscription (KAI 181) (p. 88). (β) A second example of a citation of the Mesha stele comes on p. 230 n. 69, while Müller is discussing the influence of the first commandment on the evaluation of the monarchy; one genre in which this influence is demonstrable is the “self-presentation” in the introductions of royal stelae אנך + PN (citing the Mesha inscription [KAI 181.1] and the eighth-century Hadad inscription of Panammuwa I [KAI 214.1]; cf. the form אנכי + DN in Exod 20:2, 5; Deut 5:6, 9). (γ) The “agrarian milieu” of the “law of the king” is compared to the implied agricultural situation assumed in several texts dating as late as the Holiness Code (esp. Lev 25:3-7) but as early as Sinuhe B (p. 144). (δ) When arguing for an “authentically prophetic element in Judges (echt prophetisches Element im Richterbuch)” in his “paradigmatic reworking,” which Müller wishes to date well into the Persian period, he cites as cognate usages of שׁמעו אלי such passages as Isa 46:3, 12; 51:1,7, to which he contrasts the simple imperative שׁמעו (+ dir. obj.) elsewhere (Isa 1:2, 10; Hos 4:1; 5:1; Amos 3:1; 4:1; 5:1; Mic 6:1, 9; cf. also Deut 32:1; pp. 111 n. 78). The terminus post quem established by the phrase’s appearance in Deutero-Isaiah—if it can even be established as a firm boundary—would be ca. 540 BCE. But I am unconvinced that the cited range of passages faithfully represents the phrase’s larger distribution in antiquity, given the clearly related complaints in Jer 29:19; 34:14; 35:14, 16, where we find לא + *שׁמע (either in the or + אלי. These passages demonstrate that similar concepts (and similar locutions) were in use already by the end of the 7th century. (ε) Müller compares the mention of the צדקות יהוה in 1 Sam 12:7, which he accounts to some of the latest additions to the chapter, to Mic 6:5 (p. 184). Not accidental, presumably, is the coincidence of exodus imagery in each verse’s context as well (1 Sam 12:6; Mic 6:4). Naturally, the objection could be raised that all these prophetic sources must be dated much later than the historical milieu to which they purport to speak. However, this argument has been employed so frequently—with the relative youth of so many different texts anchored to the purported youth of other such texts—so as to render the argument suspicious.

In short, although these observations do not necessarily indicate a 9th-7th century provenance for the texts Müller is examining, they do serve to call into question the absolute chronology he assigns to the antimonarchic texts. While I find much compelling and believable about Müller’s careful composition-critical analysis and his relative ordering of the discerned strata—although this analysis is at times a bit too finely-grained—I find his late-dating of the texts at hand to be extreme and ultimately unwarranted. As noted above, such late-dating presupposes a single Deuteronomistic redactor operating sometime in the late exilic period. Furthermore, it cannot conceive of an ongoing dialectic on the relative benefits and detriments of the monarchy until a period in which the institution is once again a possibility—even if never a substantial likelihood. A far more reasonable absolute chronology, in my opinion, would shift the discussion backwards in time about a century. Such a move would supply several more beneficial solutions to the problems with a late chronology enumerated above, including among other advantages:

  1. A rational Heilsgeschichtliche culmination of “Israelite” history with the reign of Josiah corresponding tightly with an initial, preexilic compilation of a large portion of the (generally promonarchic) Deuteronomistic History;
  2. Greater chronological correspondence between the lexical and syntactic features of texts cognate to those under investigation; and
  3. An equally reasonable historical setting (i.e., the Babylonian exile) during which an antimonarchic position could have arisen.

Having been persuaded by Müller’s closely argued study that the general scope of his relative ordering of redactional layers is correct, I believe it is reasonable to conclude that Israelite thought initially found no inherent exclusivity between the divine and human kingships. In light of the onset of communal crises, this position entrenched itself with the elaboration of a derivative tradition holding that the monarchy was unaccountable for the downfall of the nation. Instead, dissatisfaction with the monarchy could be deflected with the recognition that unsavory and unscrupulous individuals could abuse monarchic power (following Müller’s analysis of the portrayal of Abimelek in Judges 9, which he assigned to a mid-range redactional stratum). Increasingly, however, dissatisfaction was leveled at the institution as a whole because Yehud remained under the auspices of the Persian Empire, and local attempts to reestablish indigenous dynastic monarchies met with frustration. Moreover, Müller is undoubtedly correct in arguing for a wide array of sentiment with respect to the monarchic institutions throughout the span of Israelite and Judahite (as well as Jewish) history; there were unquestionably those who remained dedicated to the ideal of a Jewish monarchy despite increasing opposition to its reinstatement.

However, I am unable to imagine a situation in which absolutely no antimonarchic sentiment was committed to writing—or affected the interpretation of nascent community—organizing texts-during a time immediately after the general populace of Judah had experienced a life- and society-changing disaster, and surely needed to express the frustration, fear, and rage that inevitably would have developed alongside the collapse of one of its most cherished institutions. In my opinion, the reconstruction of a wholly positive view of the monarchy during the early Babylonian exile is a dramatic underestimation of the type of anguish experienced by both transplanted Judahites and their compatriots remaining in Judah, and a misunderstanding of the historical crises in which communal sentiments are most easily forged. Nor can I imagine a situation in which the need was felt to justify retroactively an institution that merely was and could be no longer; this, I take it, is the point of Müller’s assertion, “Daß das Königtum dabei schon längst nichts Selbstverständliches mehr war, ist daraus ersichtlich, daß man seine Einführung eigens begründen mußte” (p. 130). Rather, after the fall of an institution one suspects the evaluation of its worth is more likely to be negative; therefore, it seems to me that the polarity of Müller’s quotation should be reversed: only when an institution still exists or is suffering an onslaught of disestablishmentarian forces does the situation require justification of the institution.

In conclusion, to say that I did not enjoy reading and engaging with this book and with its author would be a gross misapprehension of the point of this essay. I am immensely grateful to Reinhard Müller for his detailed and critical evaluation of the supposedly “antimonarchic” passages in Joshua-Samuel, and I can only imagine that this book will serve as a touchstone of scholarship on the subject for decades, in the same way that Crüsemann’s study has served for so long as a benchmark. Despite my fundamental disagreements with the book’s methodology and composition-critical points of departure, I am happy to recognize this book as a significant contribution to the international debate over the literary and intellectual history of what—until recently—was nearly unanimously called the “Deuteronomistic History.”

Jeremy M. Hutton Princeton, New Jersey

[1] Julius Wellhausen, Die Composition des Hexateuchs und der historischen Bücher des Alten Testaments (4th ed.; Berlin: de Gruyter, 1963; repr. of 3d ed., 1895); idem, Prolegomena to the History of Israel (trans. J. S. Black and A. Menzies, with a preface by W. Robertson Smith; 1885; repr., with a foreword by Douglas A. Knight; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1994); Karl Budde, Die Bücher Richter und Samuel, ihre Quellen und ihr Aufbau (Giessen: Ricker, 1890); Martin Noth, The Deuteronomistic History (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001; repr. of The Deuteronomistic History (trans. J. A. Clines et al.; JSOTSup 15; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1981); Wolfgang Richter, Traditionsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen zum Richterbuch (BBB 18; Bonn: Heinstein, 1963); Frank Crüsemann, Der Widerstand gegen das Königtum: Die antiköniglichen Texte des Alten Testaments und der Kampf um den frühen israelitischen Staat (WMANT 49; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1978); Timo Veijola, Das Königtum in der Beurteilung der deuteronomistischen Historiographie: Eine redaktionsgeschichtliche Untersuchung (AASF B 198; Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, 1977); Christoph Levin, Der Sturz der Königin Atalja: Ein Kapitel zur Geschichte Judas im 9. Jahrhundert v. Chr. (SBS 105; Stuttgart: Verlag Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1982); idem, Die Verheißung des neuen Bundes, in ihrem theologiegeschichtlichen Zusammenhang ausgelegt (FRLANT 137; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1985); Uwe Becker, Richterzeit und Königtum: Redaktionsgeschichtliche Studien zum Richterbuch (BZAW 192; Berlin: de Gruyter, 1990); idem, “Der innere Widerspruch der deuteronomistischen Beurteilung des Königtums (am Beispiel von 1 Sam 8),” in Altes Testament und Christliche Verkündigung: Festschrift für Antonius H. J. Genneweg zum 65.Geburtstag (ed. M. Oeming and A. Graupner; Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1987), 246-70; Reinhard G. Kratz, The Composition of the Narrative Books of the Old Testament (trans. J. Bowden; London: T&T Clark, 2005).

[2] Walter Dietrich, Prophetie und Geschichte: Eine redaktionsgeschichtliche Untersuchung zum deuteronomistischen Geschichtswerk (FRLANT 108; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1972); Timo Veijola, Die ewige Dynastie: David und die Entstehung seiner Dynastie nach der deuteronomistischen Darstellung (AASF B 193; Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, 1975); idem, Königtum.

[3] Kratz, Composition.

[4] Crüsemann, Widerstand, 194-222, esp. 220.

[5] Müller cites Martin Noth, “Das Amt des ‘Richters Israels’,” in Gesammelte Studien zum Alten Testament II (ThB 39; Munich: Kaiser, 1969), 71-85, esp. 74-75; and Wolfgang Richter, “Zu den ‘Richtern Israels’,” ZAW 77 (1965): 40-72, esp. 41-45.

[6] E.g., Alexander A. Fischer, “Die Saul-überlieferung im deuteronomistischen Samuelbuch (am Beispiel von I Samuel 9-10),” in Die deuteronomistischen Geschichtswerke: Redaktions- und religionsgeschichtliche Perspektiven zur “Deuteronomismus”-Diskussion in Tora und Vorderen Propheten (ed. M. Witte et al.; BZAW 365; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2006), 163-81.

[7] Otto Eissfeldt, Die Komposition der Samuelisbücher (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1931), 7-8, 10-11, 56.

[8] Noth, Deuteronomistic History, 82.

[9] Compare recent Continental treatments such as Thomas C. Römer, “Entstehungsphasen des ‘deuteronomistischen Geschichtswerkes,” in Die deuteronomistischen Geschichtswerke: Redaktions- und religionsgeschichtliche Perspektiven zur “Deuteronomismus”-Diskussion in Tora und Vorderen Propheten (ed. M. Witte et al.; BZAW 365; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2006), 45-70; idem, The So-Called Deuteronomistic History: A Sociological, Historical, and Literary Introduction (London: T&T Clark, 2005); and Konrad Schmid, “Hatte Wellhausen Recht? Das Problem der literarhistorischen Anfänge des Deuteronomismus in den Königebüchern,” in Die deuteronomistischen Geschichtswerke: Redaktions- und religionsgeschichtliche Perspektiven zur “Deuteronomismus”-Diskussion in Tora und Vorderen Propheten (ed. M. Witte et al.; BZAW 365. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2006), 19-43.

[10] Jeremy M. Hutton, The Transjordanian Palimpsest: The Overwritten Texts of Personal Exile and Transformation in the Deuteronomistic History (BZAW 396; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2009), 148-50, 201-203.

[11] Ziva Ben-Porat, “The Poetics of Literary Allusion,” PTL 1 (1976): 105-28; Carmela Perri, “On Alluding,” Poetics 7 (1978): 289-307; idem, “Knowing and Playing: The Literary Text and the Trope Allusion,” American Imago 41 (1984): 117-28; Anthony L. Johnson, “Allusion in Poetry,” PTL 1 (1976): 579-87; Jay Clayton and Eric Rothstein, “Figures in the Corpus: Theories of Influence and Intertextuality,” in Influence and Intertextuality in Literary History (ed. J. Clayton and E. Rothstein; Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1991), 3-36. In biblical studies, see Benjamin D. Sommer, “Exegesis, Allusion and Intertextuality in the Hebrew Bible: A Response to Lyle Eslinger,” VT 46 (1996): 479-89; idem, A Prophet Reads Scripture: Allusion in Isaiah 40-66 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998); idem, “Allusions and Illusions: The Unity of the Book of Isaiah in Light of Deutero-Isaiah’s Use of Prophetic Tradition,” in New Visions of Isaiah (ed. R. F. Melugin and M. A. Sweeney; JSOTSup 214; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996), 156-86; and the recent methodological contrast between allusion and intertextuality presented by Christopher B. Hays, “Echoes of the Ancient Near East? Intertextuality and the Comparative Study of the Old Testament,” in The Word Leaps the Gap: Essays on Scripture and Theology in Honor of Richard B. Hays (ed. J. Ross Wagner, C. Kavin Rowe, and A. Katherine Grieb; Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2008), 20-43.

[12] Müller’s claim that this stratification “presents a weighty argument against the Josianic-era dating of D (Daß dies ein gewichtiges Argument gegen die josianische Ansetzung von D darstellt…)” (p. 125 n. 42) relies too readily on the assumed prioritization of vv. 1, 3-5, and does not adequately account for the possibility that the Grundbestand of 1 Samuel 8* + 10:17-27* was an extant text only secondarily combined with the remainder of 1 Sam 9:1-10:16* + 11:1-15*.

[13] Notice that two Hebrew manuscripts have זקני here (BHS, ad. loc.). Presumably, this is a secondary variant that itself developed as a “correction” from שׁבטי in order to connect 10:20 with 8:4; even if this is the case, the alternation would demonstrate the flexibility preserved in the tradition and the hermeneutical thought expended on this passage in that it would effectively be the reverse process of the one I am suggesting here.

[14] E.g., Rudolf Smend, “The Law and the Nations: A Contribution to Deuteronomistic Tradition History,” in Reconsidering Israel and Judah: Recent Studies on the Deuteronomistic History (ed. G. N. Knoppers and J. G. McConville; trans. P. T. Daniels; SBTS 8; Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2000), 95-110; Dietrich, Prophetie; Veijola, Ewige Dynastie; idem, Königtum; recently, Jochen Nentel, Trägerschaft und Intentionen des deuteronomistischen Geschichtswerks: Untersuchungen zu den Reflexionsreden Jos 1; 23; 24; 1 Sam 12 und 1 Kön 8 (BZAW 297; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2000); and Erik Aurelius, Zukunft jenseits des Gerichts: Eine redaktionsgeschichtliche Studie zum Enneateuch (BZAW 319; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2003).

[15] E.g., Frank M. Cross, “The Themes of the Book of Kings and the Structure of the Deuteronomistic History,” in Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic: Essays in the History of the Religion of Israel (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1973), 274-89; Richard D. Nelson, The Double Redaction of the Deuteronomistic History (JSOTSup 18; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1981); Richard E. Friedman, The Exile and Biblical Narrative: The Formation of the Deuteronomic and Priestly Works (HSM 22; Chico, Calif.: Scholars Press, 1981); Baruch Halpern, The Constitution of the Monarchy in Israel (HSM 25; Chico, Calif.: Scholars Press, 1981).

[16] Helga Weippert, “Die ‘deuteronomistischen’ Beurteilungen der Könige von Israel und Juda und das Problem der Redaktion der Königsbücher,” Bib 53 (1972): 301-39; W. Boyd Barrick, “On the Removal of the ‘High Places’ in 1-2 Kings,” Bib 55 (1974): 257-59; Antony F. Campbell, Of Prophets and Kings: A Late Ninth-Century Document (1 Samuel 1-2 Kings 10) (CBQMS 17; Washington DC: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1986); Baruch Halpern and David S. Vanderhooft, “The Editions of Kings in the 7th-6th Centuries B.C.E.,” HUCA 62 (1991): 179-244; Erik Eynikel, The Reform of King Josiah and the Composition of the Deuteronomistic History (OTS 33; Leiden: Brill, 1996). For recent syntheses of the problem, see Thomas C. Römer and Albert de Pury, “Deuteronomistic Historiography (DH): History of Research and Debated Issues,” in Israel Constructs Its Identity: Deuteronomistic Historiography in Recent Research (ed. A. de Pury, T. Römer, and J.-D. Macchi; JSOTSup 306; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000), 24-141; and Hutton, Transjordanian Palimpsest, 102-113.

[17] Richter, Traditionsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen, 319-43, esp. 339-43. Cf. Müller’s answer to Richter on pp. 42, 46.

[18] E.g., Juha Pakkala, Intolerant Monolatry in the Deuteronomistic History (Publications of the Finnish Exegetical Society 76; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1999).

[19] See, e.g., Peter Machinist, “Hosea and the Ambiguity of Kingship in Ancient Israel,” in Constituting the Community: Studies on the Polity of Ancient Israel in Honor of S. Dean McBride Jr. (ed. J. T. Strong and S. S. Tuell; Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2005), 153-81.

[20] Christian Frevel, “Wovon reden die Deuteronomisten?” in Die deuteronomistischen Geschichtswerke: Redaktions- und religionsgeschichtliche Perspektiven zur “Deuteronomismus”-Diskussion in Tora und Vorderen Propheten (ed. M. Witte et al.; BZAW 365; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2006), 249-77.