Reviews of

Pentateuch, Hexateuch, or Enneateuch?: Identifying Literary Works in Genesis through Kings

In Biblical Criticism, Genesis, HB/OT, Hermeneutics, Intertextuality, Kerry Lee, Konrad SCHMID, Pentateuch, Scribal habits, Scripture, Septuagint, Society of Biblical Literature, Thomas B. DOZEMAN, Thomas RÖMER on June 11, 2012 at 5:07 pm

2012.06.12 | Thomas B. Dozeman, Thomas Römer, and Konrad Schmid, eds. Pentateuch, Hexateuch, or Enneateuch?: Identifying Literary Works in Genesis through Kings. Ancient Israel and its Literature 8. Atlanta: SBL, 2011. x + 313 pages. $39.95. ISBN: 9781589835429.

Reviewed by Kerry Lee, University of Edinburgh.

RBECS would like to thank SBL for kindly providing us with a review copy.

Pentateuch, Hexateuch, or Enneateuch? is a collaboration between the Pentateuch and Deuteronomistic History Sections of SBL that explores the problems of discerning the most meaningful macro-structural literary units in Genesis-Kings, as well as the compositional processes that led to Genesis-Kings in its present state. With the generally acknowledged dissolution of a diachronic consensus centred around Wellhausen-Graf, there has arisen a need to re-examine many of these issues with new presuppositions, and this volume is an effort to fill that need. The book is made of up 11 papers divided into two parts: Methodological Studies and Case Studies.

Konrad Schmid’s opening paper summarises and narrates the scholarly dialogue from the time of von Rad and Noth up through developments in the last decade, focusing on the dialectic between von Rad’s Hexateuch hypothesis and Noth’s Deuteronomistic History. According to Schmid, despite inherent irreconcilable contradictions in the two hypotheses, a “gentlemen’s agreement” compromise between von Rad and Noth has guided the discussion ever since. This compromise began to dissolve in the 1970s with the work of John Van Seters, Hans Henrich Schmid, and Rudolf Rendtorff.

In the second essay, Thomas Römer describes four (not necessarily mutually exclusive) models currently used to explain the relationships of the texts of the Pentateuch and Former Prophets.

  1. An original Deuteronomistic History became an Enneateuch by adding a truncated Tetrateuch (following Noth). Subsequently, the first part of this Enneateuch was artificially separated from the rest to become the Pentateuch.
  2. An original wilderness/conquest history underwent both Pentateuchal and Hexateuchal redactions.
  3. An original Enneateuch (Exodus-2 Kings) was divided into Pentateuch and Former Prophets following a process similar to option #1. Variations of this model build up the so-called “Primary History” starting at Samuel-Kings and moving “earlier”.
  4. A “Deuteronomistic Library” was added to a “Priestly Library” (which consisted of an early version of Exodus-2 Kings sans Deuteronomy). The “Deuteronomistic Library” also contained some Prophetic Scrolls (especially Jeremiah), and this helps explain the existence of the Hebrew canonical division of the Prophets with its Former and Latter portions.

In the third paper, Erhard Blum explores the question of how one discerns a literary unit in the biblical text (meaning primarily macro-units, not pericopes, which are generally more easily recognised). He is especially interested in the problems raised by the difficulty of distinguishing between intertextual links (those between literarily independent works) and intratextual links (those between different parts of a single literary work). Blum divides his discussion (after a few pages of introduction) into three parts. The first part he identifies two primary classes of indicator commonly used (the evidence of existing canonical boundaries and reception history, or the more traditional indicators used in the investigation of the Hebrew Bible’s compositional history). In the second part, Blum summarises and critiques recent hypotheses by E. Aurelius and R. G. Kratz. In the third part, Blum offers some thoughts of his own, based on a supposed third class of indicator: “internal self-referential definitions of literary units” (like section headings – I am not entirely certain why this is presented as innovative).

David Carr’s essay examines the complex relationship between Samuel-Kings and Chronicles, demonstrating that there is received material unique to either history as well as shared received material. He then looks at the links either history has to the Pentateuch, differentiating between shared links (of which there are few) and links unique to either Samuel-Kings or to Chronicles (of which there are far more).

The rest of the book (roughly the last two-thirds) are a series of inductive “Case Studies.” Suzanne Boorer is concerned with the nature of P material and addresses the question of whether the P-like material in Joshua is genuinely Priestly, in the Tetrateuch sense, or pseudo-Priestly. She concludes the latter based on differences between the conceptualisations of the land in the Tetrateuchal Priestly material and in Joshua. Christopher Levin considers what role the practical limitations of a scroll and the process of dividing a text into scrolls might have played in the development of the Enneateuch (a vexed question, because scroll length is often a rationalisation rather than a scientific datum). Cynthia Edenburg examines the possible paradigmatic role of Genesis 2-4 on the whole of the Enneateuch. Michael Konkel, discovers intertextual links between Exodus 32-34 and the rest of the Enneuteuch, noting that these links would indicate that the Enneateuch reached its shape, at least in part, through a post-Priestly redaction of an already existing Deuteronomistic History. Thomas Dozemann (one of the editors of the volume) compares the texts of and placement Joshua in the MT and LXX. He concludes that the manner in which Joshua was edited and placed in the MT presumes a Pentateuch, whereas its LXX counterpart points toward something more like an Enneateuch. Christoph Berner investigates the links between Exodus 1-15 and 1 Kings 1-12, two passages which have long been recognised as comparable and even parallel. His conclusion is that there is no clear evidence either was composed in light of an Enneateuchal context, but that, contrary to the scholarly trend, the 1 Kings passage is dependent on the Exodus one (suggesting a development from Pentateuch to Enneateuch). Felipe Wißmann examines the judgement texts of Kings and concludes that they are better interpreted in the context of Prophetic texts rather than Deuteronomy (which would suggest the antiquity of the MT’s divisions of Torah and Prophets).

The articles are all very interesting and reasonably argued, though some are very difficult, and not just because of their subject matter (the English style of a few of the articles is at times nearly impenetrable). There is no central thesis for the volume, simply a broad unifying concern for Enneateuchal studies, with emphasis on the process of discerning the history of its development. Ultimately, one is left with the (accurate) impression that, despite the optimism of some of the writers, scholarship is no nearer anything like a consensus in identifying the fundamental large-scale literary units in the Torah and Former Prophets. A scholar’s presuppositions appear to be at least as determinative in any hypothesis as the textual data. There is a noticeable tendency in several of the papers for the scholar to see literary dependence between two texts without considering the possibility of a common narrative convention. This is critical when the supposed dependence is relied upon to suggest a direction for the compositional development of the Enneateuchal texts. The book as a whole does not so much offer an authoritative clarification of the relevant texts or methodological questions as a fascinating whirlwind of often contradictory ideas and arguments. Nevertheless, these eleven essays represent the work of those on the cutting edge of the question of macro-structural literary units in Genesis-2 Kings and as such provide a great deal that deserves consideration. For the specialist in this area, the volume is a needed update (and for the non-specialist, a useful introduction) regarding the labyrinthine problems of the literary relationship between the Pentateuch and Former Prophets.

Kerry Lee
University of Edinburgh
k.d.lee [ at ]


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