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Over the past four decades scholars have taken divergent paths in explaining the redaction history of Kings and the rest of the Former Prophets sources, blocks, layers, books, interpolations, glosses, or some combination thereof. Whatever the individual case, most recent studies view the compositional history of the book of the Kings as a much longer and more complicated process than Noth imagined some six decades ago.
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Scholars generally recognize a rich variety of theological commentary within the work. Because this diversity of themes extends to Deuteronomistic compositions speeches, prayers, summarizing reflections , one cannot attribute all of the diversity found within the book of Kings to the heterogeneous sources that a single Deuteronomist incorporated, but did not rewrite, within his larger work. The thematic diversity extends to Deuteronomistic commentary itself. Rather than thinking of the primary composition of Kings as the brilliant work of a single individual living in the Neo-Babylonian era, most current scholars think of this composition as developing by stages over a significant period of time.
The Books of Kings – Sources, Composition, Historiography and Reception | brill
Seen from this perspective, the individuals or groups responsible for the writing of Kings reflected a living tradition that repeatedly adapted to new challenges and new settings. At this point, certain questions emerge in the discussion as scholars disagree avidly about a variety of important issues: how many changes took place with the Deuteronomistic tradition, how long a process this entailed, the original length and nature of a literary work, the social contexts of the work s , the amount of heterogeneity within the work, and how many different writers participated in the development of the writing.
Looking at developments within the past several decades, one can say both that the old order is passing away and that the new order is much more complex. Among biblical books Kings is not often celebrated for its literary qualities. Although it includes some finely constructed stories and story cycles, the book as a whole has mostly elicited commentaries that utilize it to reconstruct Israelite history.
Books by Baruch Halpern
In fact that rhetoric itself is a literary strategy with which its writers seek to authenticate various traditions and claims by enveloping them in an historical framework. More than any other biblical book Kings bears explicitly the marks of its author. While the omniscient narrator of much biblical prose stays in the background, the narrator in Kings tips his hand in a number of ways.
By making continual reference to his sources e. Moreover, the narrator arrogates to himself the repeated judgment that events fulfill past prophecies. In addition, he offers a comparative evaluation of each king of Israel and Judah frequently without data to back it up; compared to other biblical narrators he wields a heavy hand.
That hand also appears in the complex method of organization that is the most obvious key to the structure of the book. Yet as thorough-going and consistent as this structuring technique is, it is not the only and not necessarily the most important structural feature of the book. In a manifestly composite work like Kings the quest for a single unambiguous structure is probably futile. These various patterns, perhaps having entered the book at different points in the history of is composition, work together and sometimes in tension with each other to create its thick intertextual quality.
Before examining any of these patterns in detail, however, let us look at the book as a whole to see how its content alone offers the most basic view of its structure. Much of the book is comprised of story sequences or cycles that revolve around particular kings, prophets, or movements. In his commentary on 1 Kings, Jerome Walsh divides the book into the stories of Solomon , Jeroboam , Elijah , and Ahab The narrative blocs of 2 Kings are somewhat more difficult to parse out; most commentaries simply divide the book by the reigns of the kings.
A few kings — Jehu, Hezekiah, and Josiah — are the subjects of short narrative cycles, but these cannot constitute the primary sections of the book given its aim to cover the reigns of all of the kings. Next come tree blocs distinguished by theme: revolutions and their consequences in Aram, Israel, and Judah ; turmoil and tragedy for Israel ; renewal and catastrophe for Judah The third section, though still alternating between North and South, contrasts the stability in Judah with the deterioration and, finally, destruction of Israel.
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Prophecy plays the most central role in the center of Kings, the period of the Omride dynasty. Here the stories of Elijah and Elisha dominate and overshadow the careers of the kings who are their contemporaries. This tale comes not only at the very center of the book of Kings but also outside the reigns of any kings. The summary of the reign of Ahaziah has concluded 2 Kgs and that of Jehoram has not yet begun 2 Kgs In the time outside of royal time, the only prophetic succession in the Bible takes place.
This placement signals the independence of the prophetic word and mission from the royal rhythm. The fundamental structural dynamics of Kings, then, is a product of the intersection or, better, collision of two very different views of the order of history. On the one hand, the regnal summary pattern and alternation between North and South represents an evenhanded, workmanlike effort at more or less simultaneous coverage of the course of events in two kingdoms viewed still as one people. The rise and fall of kings and dynasties is explicable; royal faithfulness or non-faithfulness to Yhwh is the key to the explanation.
On the other hand, by means of the prophecy-fulfillment pattern the unpredictable and unanticipated word of Yhwh intrudes into history. Without warning Ahijah of Shiloh and Elijah of Gilead burst on the scene, challenging kings and overturning dynasties. In its appearance, sudden or sought, the prophetic word exposes Yhwh as the real force behind human history.
Halpern and A. Pages: i—xvi.
By: Adrian Schenker. By: Julio Trebolle. Pages: 19— Pages: 41— By: Gary N. Pages: 67— By: Robert L. Pages: 89— Pages: — By: Alan R. By: Mario Liverani. By: Walter E.
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