The Reconceptualization of Kingship in Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic History’s Transformation of Torah

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Abstract

Because the royal ideology of ancient Israel was largely identical to that of the broader ancient Near East, the points of divergence are the more remarkable. In particular the legal corpus of Deuteronomy conceptualizes the king in a way that rejects all prevailing models of monarchic power, both Israelite and Near Eastern. Deuteronomy submits a utopian manifesto for a constitutional mon-archy that sharply delimits the power of the king. This redefinition of royal au-thority takes place as part of a larger program (Deut. xvi 18-xviii 22) whereby the authors of Deuteronomy redefine the jurisdiction of each branch of public office (local and central judicial administration, kingship, priesthood, and prophecy). Each is subordinated, first, to the requirements of cultic centraliza-tion, and, second, to the textual authority of deuteronomic Torah. This utopian delimitation of royal power never passed from constitutional vision into histor-ical implementation: it represented such a radical departure from precedent that the Deuteronomistic Historian, precisely while seeming to implement deuteronomic law, pointedly reversed the deuteronomic program and restored to the monarch all that Deuteronomy had withheld.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-534
Number of pages24
JournalVetus Testamentum
Volume51
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2001

Bibliographical note

Levinson, Bernard M. “The Reconceptualization of Kingship in Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic History’s Transformation of Torah.” Vetus Testamentum 51, no. 4 (2001): 511–34. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1585679.

Keywords

  • kingship
  • Deuteronomy
  • Deuteronomistic History
  • Hebrew Bible / Old Tes7tament
  • Law of the King
  • Ancient Near Eastern Literature

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