Fortress Press

The Authors of the Deuteronomistic History: Locating a Tradition in Ancient Israel

The Authors of the Deuteronomistic History

Locating a Tradition in Ancient Israel

Brian Neil Peterson (Author)

Peterson engages one of the most enduring controversies in current critical scholarship on the Hebrew Bible, the identities and provenances of the authors of the various "editions" of the Deuteronomistic History. Critically reviewing the presuppositions of scholars reaching back to Martin Noth, and using careful analysis of motif and characterization at each redactional level in each book of the Deuteronomistic History, Peterson asks where we might locate a figure with both motive and opportunity to draw up a proto-narrative including elements of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and the first part of 1 Kings.
Posing his questions in the form of a "Whodunit?" Peterson identifies a particular candidate in the time of David who had both knowledge and a theological and political agenda, qualified to write the first edition. He then extends the method to identify the particular circle who became the custodians of the Deuteronomistic narrative and supplies successive redactions, informed by the original formative vision, down to the time of Jeremiah. Careful argumentation yields surprising results at each stage.
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781451469967
  • eBook ISBN 9781451487466
  • Pages 192
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Publication Date September 1, 2014


Part 1: The Deuteronomistic History: An Introduction to Issues of Authorship, Date, and Influences
1: The Deuteronomistic History since Martin Noth
2: The Deuteronomist(s) according to Noth: An Assessment
3:  Deuteronomy as the Linchpin to the Deuteronomistic History
4:  Grammatical Constructions Showing Later Editing in the Deuteronomistic History
Part 2: An Analysis of the Texts
5:  The Editing of the Book of Deuteronomy
6: The Editing of the Book of Joshua
7: The Book of Judges: An Apology for Kingship
8: 1 Samuel: History vs. Polemic
9: 2 Samuel: The Apology Continues: David’s Fall from Grace
10: 1 and 2 Kings
11: Conclusions
Appendix: Character Parallels between Saul, Ishbosheth, and the Judges


"Brian Neil Peterson has written an important alternative to much of the literature discussing the Deuteronomistic redaction of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, and 1 & 2 Samuel. Building on a strong foundation of comparative studies with the first of these books, Peterson argues his case for an early authorship from the time of David. Peterson’s groundbreaking work establishes a redactional basis for the appearance of these texts in early Israel. It demands serious consideration by anyone interested in the literature of Israel’s early history."
—Richard S. Hess
Denver Seminary
"Brian Neil Peterson has provided a stimulating new analysis of the origins and composition of the Deuteronomistic History (DtrH). He presses on the recognition, widespread since Martin Noth, that DtrH has drawn on various sources prior to its final compilation, and offers a fresh and unusual analysis of the relationship between redactor and source, combining acute observations about the redactional history of the texts with an engaging argument for the emergence of the source material, in which David’s priest Abiathar, and the priestly house at Anathoth, play a significant role. This compelling thesis deserves to make an impact on scholarly thinking about the composition of the Deuteronomistic History."
—Gordon McConville
University of Gloucestershire

"At last, a refreshing and provocative new look at the long-standing question of who wrote the great history of ancient Israel (Deuteronomy–2 Kings)! Instead of the 'slice and dice' approach that rules the field, Peterson offers a theory that is holistic in its approach and based on sound exegesis that demonstrates a variegated but cohesive writing created within a unified stream of tradition that had its inception during the monarchy. All future studies cannot avoid considering the proposal Peterson brings to the table."
—Kenneth A. Mathews
Beeson Divinity School, Samford University 

"Peterson's new look at the composition of the Deuteronomistic History (DtrH) packs a scholarly punch. It does not merely go beyond the theories of Noth and his successors. It offers a dramatically different scenario that is not only more persuasive historiographically but also better at accounting for both the broad perspectives and the specific details of the narrative. This book does not simply review and challenge the weaknesses of older critical theories. It replaces them with a persuasive argument that the bulk of the DtrH was composed much earlier—and by people much closer to the actual events—than has usually been argued."
—Douglas Stuart
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary


Review on Torrey Gazette