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Studien zum Richterbuch und seinen Volkernamen.

Studien zum Richterbuch und seinen Volkernamen. By Walter Gross and Erasmus Gass. Stuttgarter biblische Aufsatzbande 54. Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibeliwerk, 2012. Pp. 366. 49.90 [euro].

Gross is the author of an authoritative commentary on Judges in the Herders Theologischer Kommentar series. Gass recently published a detailed monograph on the place names in Judges. This volume gathers 14 articles by these two scholars. The articles by Gross have previously appeared in other volumes, mostly Festschrifts. The articles by Gass have not been published before. Each study provides useful perspectives on various issues related to the interpretation of Judges. Serious students of the historical books of the OT will welcome bringing together Gross's scattered studies into a single volume. The articles by Gass on various ethnic groups provide careful and cogent conclusions, although the reader will need to remember how little certainty there is on these topics

In "Jiftachs Tochter," Gross maintains that Judges 11:29-40 presents Jephthah's daughter as self-confident, fully aware of her father's predicament, and willing and able to choose freely the fate she suffers. Gross also explores the reception history of the story, beginning with Pseudo-Philo.

In "Der Gottesbund im Richterbuch: Eine Problemanzeige," Gross seeks to demonstrate that the notion of Yahweh's covenant does not appear in the early form(s) of Judges. It is Yahweh's deliverance of the people from Egypt that motivates obedience, not covenant. The passages in which covenant occurs are secondary: Judges 2:1-5 is postexilic; Judges 2:20 is dependent on Joshua 23:16.

The theological and literary schema of double (divine and human) causality is the topic of "Wer rettet Israel? Die Vorstellung yon der doppelten Kausalitat, untersucht im Richterbuch und besonders in der Erzahlung von Gideon." Who delivered Israel, Yahweh or the judge? In the case of Gideon, the human savior's motives and responsibility are foregrounded more than usual, but God watches over and prompts Gideon.

"Das Richterbuch zwischen deuteronomistischem Geschichtswerk und Enneateuch" investigates the relationship of Judges in its Deuteronomistic history configuration to its larger context in Genesis to 2 Kings. The historian created Judges in order to form a bridge between two earlier compositions consisting of Deuteronomy/Joshua and Samuel/Kings respectively. This redactor fashioned an interpretive framework to bring together the list of minor judges with preexisting folktales about heroes.

Other studies explore the role of Jephthah in the history of interpretation and reception, the domestic shrine of Micah, prophets in Judges (Deborah and the anonymous prophet of chap. 6), misunderstandings about "holy war," and the practice of "resumptive repetition" (Wiederaufnahme: framing an excursus or insertion by means of a repetition of language, sometimes in reversed order).

The articles by Gass deal with critical and historical questions concerning peoples who appear in Judges: Amalekites, Kenites, the locale Maon and the Meuintes, Midianites, and the standard Deuteronomistic catalog of seven peoples, with special attention given to Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. Each study investigates both the relevant biblical texts and the archeological situation of the locations with which these peoples are associated. Maps, drawings from excavations, and iconography illustrate the points made.

Amalek was a generalized name for hostile Arab elements impacting Judah in the Negev, but any trace of historical reality had disappeared by the time stories naming them had arisen. The name became symbolic for the archetypical evil enemy of ancient times and was applied to current injustices.

The Kenites began as a metal-working group in the Arabah in the thirteenth/twelfth centuries, then pushed into the central Negev in the eleventh/tenth centuries. They were important to the emerging nation-states as weapons providers and lived in a symbiotic relationship with them. They were not permanently settled because they constantly needed to access new sources of charcoal and ore. They may have learned to honor Yahweh from the Midianites.

Archeology shows that the Midianites were farmers and herders. They were familiar with camels but probably did not engage in caravan trade and certainly were not raiding camel nomads. They may have been associated with the Kenites in mining local sources of ore after the breakdown of international trade at the close of the Late Bronze Age. The group appears in both positive and negative light in the biblical tradition.

Jebusites occupied the border area of Judah and Benjamin and Jerusalem. The preIsraelite city was never called Jebus.

DOI: 10.1177/0040563913519056

Richard D. Nelson

Perkins School of Theology, Dallas
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Author:Nelson, Richard D.
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 1, 2014
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