Joshua and Deuteronomy (3)


I have already posted two writings about “Joshua and Deuteronomy.” The primary concerns of the posts were that ① Deuteronomy is different from the first four books (Gen – Num) of the Pentateuch, and ② Joshua, as a part of the Deuteronomistic History(DH), is related to Deuteronomy.

There is one last item that I want to add here, but the general direction of this post is different because I am going to talk about Joshua’s connection with the four books (Gen – Num), not just Deuteronomy. Martin Noth understood Joshua, along with Judges, Samuel, and Kings, as “Deuteronomistic,” and many scholars still use the term “Deuteronomistic History” though they criticize or modify Noth’s ideas in a variety of ways. Consequently, the term “Deuteronomistic” or “Deuteronomistic History” can mislead you to think Joshua and other DH books are exclusively related to Deuteronomy. But that is not true. The books of DH are not homophonic but polyphonic. To understand Joshua (or the books of DH) properly, therefore, we must try to see a larger picture of the text instead of seeing its immediate context. Let me give you three simple examples of Joshua’s connection with Gen – Num.

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Joshua and Deuteronomy (2)


This is the second post on “Joshua and Deuteronomy.” Previously, I dealt with the book of Deuteronomy to explain the subject’s background. Now let’s talk about the relationship between the two books.

Why bother?

You may wonder, “why the relationship between Joshua and Deuteronomy matters so much to you?” In fact, it seems natural to assume that the two books are connected because Joshua follows Deuteronomy. However, that “this book” follows “that book” in the Hebrew Bible does not mean that those books are related.

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Joshua and Deuteronomy (1)


To study the connection between Joshua and Deuteronomy, understanding the book of Deuteronomy is a prerequisite. So I will talk about the basics of Deuteronomy first here and the relationship between Joshua and Deuteronomy later.

Martin Noth First

It is also a prerequisite to know Martin Noth’s contribution to the studies of the two books’ relatedness. 

Martin Noth claimed that the first section of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament (known as the Pentateuch) was originally composed of four books (Gen~Num, known as “Tetrateuch”); Deuteronomy was only inserted much later. In other words, the older version of Deuteronomy was not intended to conclude the “Pentateuch.” Instead, as Noth argued, a creative author/historian wrote Israel’s history, making Deuteronomy its preface and the following books as Deuteronomistic history. Before him, de Wette had already innovatively argued that Deuteronomy needs to be separated from the rest of the Pentateuch and related to Josiah’s reform. Wellhausen also recognized how Deuteronomy affected the texts of the Former Prophets. So Noth’s work is heavily influenced by de Wette and Wellhausen. Nonetheless, Noth’s contribution is still noteworthy as he went much further than the two scholars. It was a popular idea at that time that ancient writers, like the ones who were responsible for the composition of the Pentateuch, were “compilers.” And no one really thought that Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings were a combined work of an author. Under such circumstances, Noth claimed that the books of Josh~Kings are an authored work and designated the literary corpus as Deuteronomistic history. Noth believed that the author is not just a compiler but a creative writer with clear theological intentions. The fact that the four books (Josh ~ Kings) are still usually called “Deuteronomisic history” these days tells us how great Noth’s contribution was to Biblical studies.

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