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Die Fruhgeschichte Israels in Bekenntnis und Verkundigung des Alten Testaments.

The so-called "historical credos" in Deut 26:5-9, Josh 24:2-13, and elsewhere have had an illustrious career in twentieth-century biblical scholarship. Since Gerhard von Rad in 1938 defined these texts as the earliest confessions of Israelite faith, much scholarly labor has been devoted to the relationship between these texts and the "later" developed traditions of the Hexateuch. Martin Noth based his influential reconstruction of Pentateuchal traditions (in Uberlieferungsgeschichte des Pentateuch, 1948) on von Rad's theory, and for many Noth's work has remained a standard source. In the 1960s criticism of this theory began in earnest; Leonhardt Rost and others showed clearly that Deut. 26:5-8 and Joshua 24 are late, Deuteronomistic texts, and have no bearing on the early history of Pentateuchal (or Hexateuchal) traditions. Other scholars (George Mendenhall, Klaus Baltzer, Herbert Huffmon, and others) compared these texts to the covenant formulae found in Hittite and Neo-Assyrian treaties and saw these texts as exemplars of the Israelite covenantal form. In recent years interest in these texts has waned, since they are now acknowledged to be late and derivative, rather than early and formative.

In this Habilitationsschrift submitted in 1987 to the Evangelical-Theological Faculty of the University of Vienna, Siegfried Kreuzer has ably summarized the history of twentieth-century scholarship on these so-called "credo" texts, and has reexamined the major biblical passages with a view to discerning their perspectives on early Israelite history. His study consists of a review of scholarship, a discussion of the key texts, and a comparison with some similar texts in the pre-exilic prophetic books and the post-exilic psalms.

In his extensive Forschungsgeschichte, K. stresses the early contributions of Anton Jirku and Kurt Galling, then covers the classical formulations of von Rad and Noth and the subsequent criticisms and alternatives to the "early credo" theory. In the last part of this section K. notes that the "credo" theory has had a revival of sorts in recent Catholic theology, in which these texts have been advanced by some as appropriate confessions of Catholic faith. K. aptly criticizes this proposal by transposing some of the earlier criticisms of von Rad's theory, noting that a religious credo without reference to the Law or Mount Sinai surely does not adequately represent biblical religion. As K. acidly notes, with particular reference to some recent discussions of Deut. 26:5-9: "Ein Schlussel zur Geschichte und Glauben Israels ohne das Gesetz, und das im Deuteronomium?".

K. then examines a number of biblical texts that contain summaries, in one fashion or another, of early Israelite history: Genesis 15, Exodus 3, Numbers 20, Deuteronomy 6, Deuteronomy 26, and Joshua 24. This is the largest section of the book and contains extensive discussions of compositional and redactional history, literary context, historical Sitze im Leben, and so forth. There is much admirable work in this section, though attention to so many texts tends to make K.'s discussions largely dependent on other studies. His discussions, however, do assemble many recent conclusions into one space, providing a good service to scholars.

In the briefest section of the book, K. compares the views of history in these texts to the historical references by the eighth-century prophets and to the summaries of history in post-exilic psalms. Much of this section is also informative, though some will bristle at the casual dating of such texts as Psalm 78 and the "Song of the Sea" in Exodus 15 to the post-exilic period.

K. concludes by drawing together the main points of his investigation. He notes that after many decades of debate it is clear that there is no single Gattung of credo-texts; rather there are many texts and genres that make use of early Israelite history in various ways, reflecting various interests. These texts are not recitals of history, but presuppose Israelite historical traditions and weave elements together to fit a particular need or interpretation. Thus, for example, in the festival of the first-fruits the themes of distress, call for help, divine response, and deliverance are given expression by reciting paradigmatic events from the Exodus story (Deut. 26:5-9). Similarly, in other contexts the stories of the Sinai theophany, the promises to the fathers, the conquest of the land, and other narrative complexes could be drawn upon to express a variety of themes. K. argues that the stories were generally known in Israel, and could be recombined at will by different storytellers and writers: "die israelitischen Erzahler--und ihre Horer--durchaus ein Gesamt|b~ild vor Augen hatten, dass sie unter dem jeweils spezifischen Erzahlschema und Spannungsbogen darboten". These texts have no relevance for the early growth of Pentateuchal traditions, rather they show how historical traditions were interpreted and appropriated in Israel in view of their thematic relevance to contemporary interests.

This is a very useful and instructive study of an important topic in modern biblical scholarship. There are a number of typographical errors, and in the bibliography, pages 283-84 have been reversed, thereby attributing to G. W. Trompf several important studies by Moshe |not Mose~ Weinfeld.
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Author:Hendel, Ronald S.
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 1992
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