King Josiah of Judah: The Lost Messiah of Israel.
King Josiah of Judah: The Lost Messiah of Israel. By Marvin A. Sweeney (Oxford, $60). S. believes that Josiah saw himself as the king or messiah of a reunited and restored kingdom of Israel. Evidence for this is found in a reconstructed preexilic edition of the Deuteronomistic History, in which Joshua is portrayed as a model for the rule of Josiah, the northern tribes in Judges are unable to rule themselves, and Josiah is given the highest praise in 2 Kings. The prophets Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Jeremiah were Josiah's contemporaries. Jeremiah was an early supporter of Josiah's reform (chaps. 2-26, 30-31), but after Josiah's death Jeremiah rejected the claims connected to the eternal temple and eternal dynasty and favored obedience to the Mosaic law. Isaiah was revised during the reign of Josiah, according to S., and Josiah is the "shoot" announced in chap. 11. S. understands the "righteous branch," promised in Jeremiah 23 and 33, to refer to Zerubbabel. Josiah's untimely death and the utter failure of his reform provoked considerable debate about the role of the monarch during the exile and beyond. The central contribution of this volume is its outline of the enormous role played by Josiah in Israel's hopes and in the reaction to this king's death. But much depends on very uncertain datings of alleged redactions and, at times, questionable exegesis. S.'s efforts to enlist the last chapter of Amos in the Josianic program, for example, seems forced (has not the booth of David fallen?), and I have severe misgivings about his understanding of both Isaiah 11 and Jeremiah 23 (Jeremiah 33, which indeed is much later and lacking in the Septuagint, is another matter). This book makes for very stimulating reading. RWK