Reviews of

Ezekiel and the World of Deuteronomy

In Bloomsbury, D. Allen Hutchison, Deuteronomy, Ezekiel, Jason Gile, T & T Clark on December 1, 2021 at 11:47 pm

2021.12.18 | Jason Gile. Ezekiel and the World of Deuteronomy. LHBOTS 703. London: T&T Clark, 2021. ISBN 9780567694317 (electronic version).

Review by D. Allen Hutchison, Stellenbosch University.

Ezekiel and the World of Deuteronomy by Jason Gile makes the strong case that the book of Deuteronomy was a significant influence on the book of Ezekiel. Gile is Dean of Program Development and Innovation and Affiliate Professor of Old Testament at Northern Seminary in Lisle, Illinois. Ezekiel and the World of Deuteronomy is the revision of his 2013 Ph.D. dissertation from Wheaton College Graduate School.

Gile acknowledges on the first page that the Holiness Code of Lev 17-26 is “the chief influence for Ezekiel” (1) but argues that Leviticus is not the only pentateuchal book to substantially influence the prophet and his book. Gile’s thesis is that Deuteronomy influenced Ezekiel “in significant ways” and “in some cases [Ezekiel] alluded to specific texts” from Deuteronomy (2).

The opening chapter provides a greater context for the study, including a discussion of Ezekiel the prophet, Ezekiel’s role in writing the book that bears his name, and a brief consideration of the possible redaction history of the book of Ezekiel. The succinct literature review demonstrates that Gile’s study is the first “extensive investigation of Deuteronomy’s influence on Ezekiel” (12). The second chapter offers a methodology for identifying both allusion and textual influence that is not evident through allusion. Gile highlights the importance of lexical connection(s), direction of influence, and rhetorical function to identify an allusion.

Chapters 3-7 examine various concepts and passages from the book of Ezekiel and their connections to Deuteronomy. Chapter 3 focuses on idolatry, surveying terms Ezekiel uses for idolatry and how certain ones are drawn from Deuteronomy. This survey includes an examination of allusions to Deut 4 in multiple passages in Ezekiel. Gile’s arguments here do eventually convince through the quantity of evidence, but the use of equivocal language at points in this chapter tempers the argumentation. Gile gives a great deal of space to alternative explanations for understanding the lexical connections; his thoroughness in considering other options is praiseworthy. However, the evidence could have supported more assertive statements of the author’s arguments.

Chapter 4 is an extended analysis of the connections between Ezek 16 and Deut 32. Gile presents convincing evidence and argumentation. Not only do many lexical phrases in Ezek 16 allude to Deut 32, but Ezekiel also “adopts the structure and themes of Deuteronomy 32 and infuses them with the prophetic motif of harlotry” (81). Gile also addresses diachronic considerations and concludes Ezekiel could have known and used Deut 32. The chapter finishes with a reflection on Ezekiel’s rhetorical purposes in using Deut 32 as the “building blocks” for Ezek 16 (80, 91). Through the allusion to Deut 32, Ezekiel accuses and judges Israel and declares the predicted punishment fulfilled (101-102).

In Chapter 5, Gile systematically works through Ezek 20, pointing out connections to various passages in Deuteronomy. Any of the data on their own may not convince one of Deuteronomy’s influence on Ezek 20. However, Gile’s accumulation of evidence dispels any doubt. Gile also addresses the difficulty in interpreting Ezek 20.25-26. Some argue that these verses refer to laws from Deuteronomy, but Gile builds upon the work of Kelvin Friebel and presents a sound argument that those verses “do not refer to divine instruction at all” (133). This argument was unexpected in a volume about Ezekiel’s connections to Deuteronomy, but, if anything, it strengthened the study’s overall argument with a clear instance of the author’s willingness to avoid identifying a connection between Ezekiel and Deuteronomy if the evidence did not warrant it.

Chapters 6 and 7 examine Ezekiel’s motifs of the scattering and gathering of Israel, respectively. Gile acknowledges in Chapter 6 Michael Lyons’s work in showing the connections between Leviticus and Ezekiel’s scattering motif. Gile then builds upon Lyons and argues well that connections to Deuteronomy abound as well. Ezekiel combines references to Leviticus and Deuteronomy in his scattering motif to demonstrate that the pentateuchal threats have been realized in Israel’s exile. Chapter 7 connects Ezekiel’s restoration motif in nine different passages with the promise of hope and restoration in Deut 30. Gile establishes that the gathering motif fits well within the book of Ezekiel and how it functions as the counterpart to Ezekiel’s scattering motif. By connecting his gathering motif to Deut 30, Ezekiel shows that Israel’s hope of restoration is rooted in the fulfillment of pentateuchal “promises of restoration after judgment” (213).

Chapter 8 concludes the study with a survey of each of the study’s chapters and summarizes well the various points of argumentation. The book closes with broad treatments of Ezekiel’s use of Scripture, his connection to the Holiness and Deuteronomic traditions, and his role as a theologian and rhetorician. Gile has included indexes of references and authors.

The principal strength of this study is in how convincingly it supports its thesis. Any investigation of Ezekiel’s use of other biblical texts must now include Gile’s clear and determinative evidence that Ezekiel alludes to Deuteronomy in multiple locations. Even in passages without clear allusions to Deuteronomy, Gile presents solid evidence for Deuteronomy’s influence on Ezekiel in terms of theology and vocabulary.

The most glaring weaknesses of the study are structural, on two counts. First, I did not detect anything in Chapter 3 that required it to immediately follow the methodology. As noted above, the evidence of Chapter 3 could have supported a more vigorous presentation of the argumentation. The resounding arguments of Chapters 4 and 5 would have made a much stronger start to the author’s presentation of the data. Perhaps Chapter 3 would have read differently if it had come after the other stronger chapters. Second, the placement of the excursuses in Chapters 6 and 7 halted the development of each chapter’s arguments by separating the discussion of lexical connections and direction of influence from the discussion of the rhetorical function of the noted allusions. These excursuses would have been better located at least at the end of their respective chapters, if not at the end of the book as appendices.

Ezekiel and the World of Deuteronomy is a well-reasoned and evidence-laden account of Ezekiel’s connections to Deuteronomy. It is a welcome addition to the burgeoning library of studies in recent years that investigate how the prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible allude to and are influenced by the Pentateuch.

D. Allen Hutchison
Stellenbosch University
dahutchison [at] gmail.com

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