TEN THEMES OF THE DEUTERONOMISTIC HISTORY

(based on M. Weinfeld, Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic School)


1) The struggle against idolatry. Images have no place in deuteronomistic religion, since
they tempt their users to worship them. Ideal worship was iconoclastic.

2) One centralized cult. God chose Jerusalem as the place in which worship should take place.
Practice of the cult anywhere else would lead to sin, thus all sacrifices should take place in the Temple.

3) The election, exodus, conquest themes. God had chosen Abraham, Isaac, and Israel as
the holy people. They were led out of Egypt to conquer and destroy the Canaanites.

4) The monotheistic ideal. There was only one God who deserved Israel's worship.
Eventually this came to be fully developed monotheism which denied the existence
of other gods. For the DH, God was One.

5) Observance of the law. God had designated the torah as the correct method of
maintaining the divine-human relationship. Keeping the covenant ensured that
this relationship would remain operative.

6) The inheritance of the land. The promises to the ancestors included many offspring and
a land where they would be able to live. The specific territory outlined in the
Deuteronomistic History was a divine gift to Israel.

7) Material reward and retribution. Disobedience led to tangible punishment in this world,
and obedience was rewarded with material goods and divine blessings.

8) The fulfillment of prophecy. The prophets were divinely chosen mouthpieces. They
uttered the words of God and should be obeyed like God. If God declared something was
going to happen, it did.

9) The election of David and his dynasty. Monarchy was not the ideal, but if Israel had to
have a king, it should be a king like David. No other king attained his reputation for a pure
relationship with God. The divided monarchy, therefore, was a major sin.

10) Distrust of anything foreign. Foreign spouses would lead Israelites astray, foreign
cultic objects would entice them to worship foreign gods. The safest approach to follow
was to avoid foreign influence as much as possible.

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This page was last modified on 2 December 1999.