The Reconceptualization of Kingship in Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic Historys Transformation of Torah
Vetus Testamentum, Vol. 51, pp. 511-34, 2001
24 Pages Posted: 24 May 2011
Date Written: 2001
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 monarchy that sharply delimits the power of the king. This redefinition of royal authority 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 centralization, and, second, to the textual authority of deuteronomic Torah. This utopian delimitation of royal power never passed from constitutional vision into historical 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.
Keywords: Law of King, Kingship, Deuteronomy, Deuteronomistic History, Ämtergesetze, constitutional theory, democracy, Ezekiel 37, democratic kingship, Greek ideology of kingship, constitutional monarchy, Elyon, Psalm 1, royal psalms, Laws of Public Officials
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