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Israel and the Assyrians

Israel and the Assyrians: Deuteronomy, the Succession Treaty of Esarhaddon, and the Nature of Subversion

C. L. Crouch
  • Book Info
    Israel and the Assyrians
    Book Description:

    Was Deuteronomy created to be a subversive text based on Assyian treaties?

    In this new book Crouch focuses on Deuteronomy's subversive intent, asking what would be required in order for Deuteronomy to successfully subvert either a specific Assyrian source or Assyrian ideology more generally. The book reconsiders the nature of the relationship between Deuteronomy and Assyria, Deuteronomy's relationship to ancient Near Eastern and biblical treaty and loyalty oath traditions, and the relevance of Deuteronomy's treaty affinities to discussions of its date.


    A thorough investigation of the nature and requirements of subversionA focused examination of the context in which Deuteronomy would have functionedAn appendix focused on redactional questions related to Deuteronoy 13 and 28

    eISBN: 978-1-62837-026-3
    Subjects: Religion, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  2. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
    C. L. Crouch
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    The origins and purpose of the book of Deuteronomy remain, despite significant progress in the two centuries since de Wette, two of the most contested points in biblical scholarship. A prominent feature of attempts to ground the deuteronomic text in a historical context over the last half century has been the observation of certain affinities between Deuteronomy and ancient Near Eastern vassal treaties and loyalty oaths. More specifically, it has been suggested that the book of Deuteronomy, in some more or less original form, constituted a subversive appropriation of Neo-Assyrian imperial ideology in favor of a Yahwistic theocentricity: a text...

  5. 1 The Nature of Subversion
    (pp. 15-46)

    Given the current study’s intention to approach the relationship of Deuteronomy to VTE and to Assyria through an examination of the requirements of subversion, it is necessary to begin with a discussion of subversion itself: what it is, where the concept originated, and how it might be achieved.

    Although theOxford English Dictionaryoffers several current uses for the verb “to subvert,” common to the majority—as well as the root’s noun and adjectival forms—is the negative effects or intentions of the activity described. Thus subversion may be used to refer to the overthrow of a nation, government, ruler,...

  6. 2 Deuteronomy and VTE
    (pp. 47-92)

    In the discussion of subversion as adaptation in chapter one it was argued that the interpretation of an adaptation as adaptation—that is, as a work that has a relationship with some other, pre-existing work—depends on the new work’s ability to signal that relationship such that the audience is able to recognize the author’s intention for the new work to be interpreted in light of the old. Applied to the case of Deuteronomy and VTE, Deuteronomy’s subversive potentialvis-à-visVTE depends on Deuteronomy’s ability to signal its relationship with that text such that its audience is able to recognize...

  7. 3 Deuteronomy and Assyria
    (pp. 93-124)

    The preceding has argued that the relationship between Deut 13 and 28 and VTE is not specific, frequent, or distinctive enough to warrant the conclusion that the similarities between the two texts were intended by the author of Deuteronomy to function as allusions to VTE. Abandoning the suggestion that Deuteronomy is signaling a relationship to VTE means that the ability of Deuteronomy to subvert VTE must be likewise forsaken. An exception to this relates to the question of a wider tradition: if VTE were the only exemplar of loyalty oath and curse traditions known to Deuteronomy’s audience, even the sloppy...

  8. 4 Deuteronomy and the Biblical Tradition
    (pp. 125-146)

    Chapters two and three have considered the issue of Deuteronomy’s subversive intent from the point of view of the text and its source, whether the latter is conceived as an individual source text or a source tradition. In the background of these chapters was the question of audience knowledge, noted briefly by the acknowledgment in chapter three that, if Deuteronomy’s audience only knows Assyrian treaties and loyalty oaths (or only knows VTE), it will most naturally interpret Deuteronomy in Assyrian terms, even if the signal to the Assyrian form of the tradition was weak. There is the possibility, in other...

  9. 5 Language, Function, and Comprehension
    (pp. 147-166)

    A successful case of subversion requires more than a single individual capable of reading and adapting a source; there must also be an audience sufficiently familiar with the source text as to recognize an adaptation of it.¹ To recall Hutton, “[t]he marking text’s effectiveness requires the reader’s sufficient competence to actualize the allusion to the earlier work.”² The previous chapter considered the implications of a wider knowledge of treaties, loyalty oaths, and curses for the audience’s interpretation of Deuteronomy as a new work. This chapter addresses the social role of treaties and loyalty oaths more broadly, considering the likely level...

  10. 6 Deuteronomy’s Relationship with Assyria
    (pp. 167-178)

    Finally, a few observations regarding the wider book of Deuteronomy and its relationship with Assyria are worthwhile.¹ As already established, the capacity of a new work to subvert an existing one relies on the author’s ability to signal the identity of the source text, supported by sufficient detail about its relationship with that source as to clarify exactly how the new text is using, adapting, and subverting it. Given that Deuteronomy’s identification of an Assyrian source as the framework for its own interpretation has been concluded extremely unlikely, at least with regard to the material in Deut 13 and 28,...

  11. Conclusions
    (pp. 179-184)

    The preceding has sought to challenge the interpretation of Deuteronomy as intending to subvert Assyrian imperial power and ideology, either as formulated in a specific Assyrian treaty or loyalty oath or as formulated in the Assyrian tradition of treaties and loyalty oaths. It has approached the issue by understanding subversion as a form of adaptation, based on the importance, for the subverting text, of juxtaposing its message against the message of an older work or tradition, so that the differences between the new and the old might become apparent to the new work’s audience.

    In chapter one the mechanics of...

  12. Biblical Index
    (pp. 205-210)
  13. Ancient Texts Index
    (pp. 211-214)
  14. Subject Index
    (pp. 215-216)