A Hypertextual Commentary

by Bartosz Adamczewski (Author)
©2020 Monographs 262 Pages


This monograph demonstrates that the book of Deuteronomy is a result of highly creative, hypertextual reworking of the book of Ezekiel. Likewise, it shows that the books of Joshua–Judges, taken together, are a result of one, highly creative, hypertextual reworking of the book of Deuteronomy. In both cases, the detailed reworking consists of almost 700 strictly sequentially organized conceptual, and at times also linguistic correspondences. The strictly sequential, hypertextual dependence on the earlier works explains numerous surprising features of Deuteronomy and Joshua–Judges. This critical analysis of Deuteronomy and Joshua–Judges sheds entirely new light on the question of the origin of the Pentateuch and the whole Israelite Heptateuch Genesis–Judges.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Acknowledgments
  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • Sequential hypertextuality
  • Deuteronomy and Ezekiel
  • Joshua–Judges and Deuteronomy
  • Date of composition
  • Place of composition
  • Chapter 1. The book of Deuteronomy as a sequential hypertextual reworking of the book of Ezekiel
  • 1.2. Deut 1:9–18 (cf. Ezek 3:16–27)
  • 1.3. Deut 1:19–46 (cf. Ezek 4:1–8)
  • 1.4. Deut 2:1–16 (cf. Ezek 4:9–6:14)
  • 1.5. Deut 2:17–3:29 (cf. Ezek 7:1–8:2a)
  • 1.6. Deut 4:1–40 (cf. Ezek 8:2b–10:17)
  • 1.7. Deut 4:41–49 (cf. Ezek 10:18–11:3)
  • 1.8. Deut 5:1–6:3 (cf. Ezek 11:4–20c)
  • 1.9. Deut 6:4–25 (cf. Ezek 11:20d–15:6)
  • 1.10. Deut 7 (cf. Ezek 15:7–16:23)
  • 1.11. Deut 8:1–9:7b (cf. Ezek 16:24–63)
  • 1.12. Deut 9:7c–29 (cf. Ezek 17:1–24:14)
  • 1.13. Deut 10:1–11:1 (cf. Ezek 24:15–28:26)
  • 1.14. Deut 11:2–28 (cf. Ezek 29–36)
  • 1.15. Deut 11:29–13:19 (cf. Ezek 37:1–39:10)
  • 1.16. Deut 14 (cf. Ezek 39:11–45:9d)
  • 1.17. Deut 15:1–16:17 (cf. Ezek 45:9e–46:7)
  • 1.18. Deut 16:18–18:8 (cf. Ezek 46:8–24)
  • 1.19. Deut 18:9–30:20 (cf. Ezek 47:1–12)
  • 1.20. Deut 31:1–33:4 (cf. Ezek 47:13–23)
  • 1.21. Deut 33:5–34:12 (cf. Ezek 48)
  • 1.22. Conclusion
  • Chapter 2. The book of Joshua as a sequential hypertextual reworking of Deut 1:1–32:50
  • 2.2. Josh 2:1–15 (cf. Deut 1:22–7:26)
  • 2.3. Josh 2:16–24 (cf. Deut 8–9)
  • 2.4. Josh 3 (cf. Deut 10:1–10)
  • 2.5. Josh 4:1–5:1 (cf. Deut 10:11–15)
  • 2.6. Josh 5:2–12 (cf. Deut 10:16–19:21)
  • 2.7. Josh 5:13–6:27 (cf. Deut 20)
  • 2.8. Josh 7 (cf. Deut 21:1–22:25)
  • 2.9. Josh 8:1–29 (cf. Deut 22:26–27:4d)
  • 2.10. Josh 8:30–35 (cf. Deut 27:4d–26)
  • 2.11. Josh 9–17 (cf. Deut 28:1–8a)
  • 2.12. Josh 18–21 (cf. Deut 28:8b–9b)
  • 2.13. Josh 22 (cf. Deut 28:9c–14)
  • 2.14. Josh 23 (cf. Deut 28:15–69)
  • 2.15. Josh 24:1–25 (cf. Deut 29–30)
  • 2.16. Josh 24:26–33 (cf. Deut 31:1–32:50)
  • Chapter 3. The book of Judges as a sequential hypertextual reworking of Deut 32:51–34:12
  • 3.2. Judg 2:10b–3:31 (cf. Deut 33:6–12)
  • 3.3. Judg 4–9 (cf. Deut 33:13–17)
  • 3.4. Judg 10–18 (cf. Deut 33:18–25)
  • 3.5. Judg 19–21 (cf. Deut 33:26–34:12)
  • 3.6. Conclusion
  • General conclusions
  • Bibliography
  • Secondary literature
  • Index of ancient sources
  • Series index

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The style of this monograph is highly repetitive, resembling that of Josh 12:7–24. This ‘minimalistic’ style of scholarly analysis directs the attention of the reader to the hitherto unknown phenomenon of almost 700 sequentially arranged, conceptual, but often also linguistic, hypertextual correspondences between the book of Deuteronomy and the book of Ezekiel, and also almost 700 such correspondences between the books of Joshua–Judges and the book of Deuteronomy. The discovery of this phenomenon radically changes our understanding of the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Judges: their origin, literary character, and theological ideas. It reveals that the book of Deuteronomy was consistently written as a hypertextual reworking of the book of Ezekiel, and the continuous narrative of Joshua–Judges as a whole, and not just some fragments thereof, was consistently written as a hypertextual reworking of the book of Deuteronomy.

The English translations of the Hebrew words, phrases, and sentences of the books of Deuteronomy and Joshua–Judges, which are used in this monograph, are often as literal as possible, even at the cost of incorrectness of the English grammar and style (‘land’ instead of ‘earth,’ ‘do’ instead of ‘make,’ etc.), to show the linguistic and conceptual connections between the books of Deuteronomy and Ezekiel, as well as Joshua–Judges and Deuteronomy, which are often only detectable in the original Hebrew text.

Sequential hypertextuality

The methodological approach adopted in this monograph is not based on any widely used modern exegetical method. These methods are generally based on various presuppositions, for example, that the biblical texts are similar to other ancient texts, that they have some diachrony, that they have some internal narrative coherence, that they convey some coherent ideas, etc., which are not necessarily true. The approach adopted in this monograph is therefore based on a close reading and a comparative analysis of the biblical texts as we have them, with paying particular attention to the order of their ideas and to their minor, somewhat surprising details, which are rarely scrutinized by other scholars. Thus, in a critical and verifiable way, it explains numerous data of the biblical texts which are very difficult to explain with the use of more widely known biblical methods, ←11 | 12→a feature which from a general methodological point of view constitutes its greatest advantage over them.1

Most modern scholars fail to take into due consideration the fact that literary irregularities or peculiarities (but rather not evident errors) as well as Wiederaufnahmen may result from a consistent but somehow imperfect creative reworking of an earlier text in a later one, written by a single author as one literary work. Accordingly, these literary phenomena need not be explained diachronically as resulting from the activities of different hands over a long period of time. They may also be explained as resulting from a creative use of one or more earlier texts by a single author.2

The main difference between the approach presented in this monograph and in traditional historical-critical analyses lies in the different perceptions of the role of ancient authors in their dealing with earlier texts. In their historical-critical approach, modern scholars often methodologically compare the biblical authors to scribes copying and reworking earlier manuscripts, so that in their opinion there is no great difference between textual formation and textual transmission.3 In the research on hypertextuality, however, the biblical authors are credited with much more freedom and creativity in their dealing with earlier literary works, and their activities are perceived as significantly differing from those of later copyists of their works. Although the biblical writers at times evidently borrowed some texts almost verbatim, they also creatively, with the use of much imagination and often purely conceptual and/or linguistic associations, reworked the contents of earlier literary works. The evidently different ways of, on the one hand, quite literal use of the Deuteronomic altar law Deut 27:4–8 in Josh 8:30–32 and, on the other hand, very creative use of a similar Deuteronomic altar law Deut 12:26–27 in Josh 22 should warn us against a too limited view of the creative abilities and intentions of the biblical authors.

←12 | 13→

The methodological approach based on the concept of hypertextuality was already adopted and refined in my earlier monographs concerning various biblical writings. These studies revealed that the sequentially arranged, hypertextual connections between the New Testament Gospels and their hypotexts can be counted not in tens, as I had earlier thought, but in hundreds.4 The present monograph likewise presupposes and develops the results of my earlier study on Deuteronomy, in which I argued that there are six sequentially arranged, hypertextual connections between the books of Deuteronomy and Ezekiel.5

According to the French literary theorist Gérard Genette, hypertextuality can be defined as any relationship uniting a text B (which is in such a case called hypertext) to an earlier text A (which is called hypotext), upon which it grafts itself in a manner that is not that of commentary.6 Accordingly, a hypertextual relationship of a given text to a hypotext by definition does not consist in directly commenting on the hypotext, its ideas, literary features, phraseology, etc. Therefore, a hypertextual relationship may include some linguistic connections between the hypertext and the hypotext, but it may also be purely conceptual. For this reason, although the presence of shared language, especially unique to two given texts, is a useful preliminary indicator of some kind of literary relationship between them, the volume of shared language should not be regarded as the primary criterion for detecting literary dependence between two given texts, especially ancient Near Eastern texts.7

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My analyses of the phenomenon of hypertextuality in biblical writings reveal that the most important criterion for detecting a hypertextual relationship between two given biblical writings is the criterion of the order of their hypertextual correspondences. If two given works reveal conceptual and/or linguistic correspondences which follow a sequential pattern, it is reasonable to argue that the author of one of these works in a hypertextual way reworked the other work, preserving the basic sequence of its ideas, concepts, literary motifs, etc. In such a case, the relationship between these works may be called sequential hypertextuality.

Jeffrey M. Leonard makes use of this criterion in his identification of the allusive technique called ‘narrative tracking.’8 Leonard’s criterion of detecting the mimicking of the narrative structure of an earlier text in a later text can certainly be applied to the narrative parts of both Deuteronomy and Joshua–Judges (the initial geographical setting in Transjordan, the command to enter Canaan, the description of its ideal borders, the appointing of the officials over the people, the exhortation to be strong, the sending of the spies, etc.). However, the phenomenon of the common order of ideas, concepts, motifs, specific vocabulary, etc. can be much broader than that of the presence of ‘narrative tracking’ because it can also be detected in non-narrative or only partly narrative texts.

In the cases in which the level of verbal agreement between the conceptually corresponding fragments of two given works is very low, and consequently the relationship between both works is truly hypertextual, the criterion of order is particularly useful. In such cases, the weakness of purely linguistic signals of literary dependence (quoted or imitated sentences, reproduced characteristic phrases, characteristic vocabulary, etc.) is recompensed by the consistency of the strictly sequential reworking of the conceptual elements (ideas, images, arguments, references to time, directions of movement in space, actions taken, features of the characters, etc.) of one work in the other one.9

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The criterion of the common order of the conceptually and/or linguistically corresponding elements is particularly compelling if it refers not only to larger thematic sections or pericopes, but also to individual sentences or even clauses, phrases, and words. In such cases, the argumentative force of this criterion is very high, even if the level of verbal or formal agreement between the compared texts is quite low. It should be admitted that the detection of a sequence of several similar elements, which is often used in structuralist-oriented scholarship for postulating the existence of various chiastic, concentric, and parallel patterns in biblical texts (ABCDC’B’A’ etc.), can be regarded as more or less subjective.10 However, the degree of interpretative objectivity is much higher if the detected common sequence of conceptually corresponding elements consists of tens or hundreds of sequentially arranged items.

Moreover, instead of placing great emphasis on the presence or absence of shared language in two given texts, the analysis of literary dependence, especially that of a highly creative, hypertextual kind, may be based on the criterion of noticing and explaining the presence of somewhat surprising features in the later text.11 David M. Carr points to the presence of such features in the so-called ‘blind motifs.’12

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Such particular, surprising, innovative, atypical features, which go beyond evoking general associations with other texts (achieved with the use of familiar motifs, formulaic language, type-scenes, literary genres, etc.), point to literary, reinterpreting dependence upon an earlier text, and not merely oral transmission of traditional material, which could be freely used by the author in his creative literary activity.13

The not easily perceivable, rarely noticed, somewhat surprising features of a given literary work can often be explained if this work is an imperfect literary reworking of another text, in which such problems and surprising features are absent. In fact, every reworking of something else leaves some traces, and even a gifted and creative author is not always capable of eliminating all of them, especially if they are barely noticeable.14 A careful analysis of such minor, intriguing literary features, which are often neglected or only superficially explained by most commentators, may give important clues to the discovery of a hypertextual relationship of a given text to a hypotext. Moreover, it can help to ascertain the direction of literary dependence between two given writings.15

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In particular, in the analysis of the phenomenon of sequential hypertextual reworking in the Hebrew Bible it is important to pay close attention to various intriguing linguistic phenomena in the Hebrew text of its writings: the use of the same Hebrew root in semantically apparently unrelated words, plays with the meaning of proper nouns, the use of ambiguous words and phrases, surprising combinations of words in phrases, linguistic differences between parallel accounts, the interpretative function of the masoretic punctuation of Hebrew homographs,16 etc.

It should also be noted that the crucial hermeneutical disposition for analysing hypertextual correspondences in the Bible consists in the use of the faculty of imagination17 in order to detect imaginative, creative, at times purely conceptual correspondences between various ideas, images, statements, and words in the biblical texts.18 In imagination, as is well known, the sky is the limit. Therefore, in this respect the methods of midrashic and allegorical interpretation used by ancient rabbis and church fathers at times better reflected the complex meaning of the biblical texts, with their metaphors, allusions, word-plays, hidden polemic, and narrative illustrations of various theological and legal ideas, than do modern, often too ‘arid’ exegetical methods, which aim at being scholarly objective, and consequently prefer the more evident, but in fact more superficial level of meaning.

Therefore, if the Bible resembles a work of art, then the exegete needs a good, gifted, but also trained ‘ear’ or ‘eye,’19 as well as broad scholarly knowledge (and not merely following a widely used interpretative procedure), to detect signals of creative, hypertextual reworking of another work in a given biblical writing.20

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The problem of adequate scholarly interpretation of the Bible, including Deuteronomy and Joshua–Judges, is additionally complicated by the question how typical the Bible is among ancient literary works. Modern biblical methodology assumes that the biblical writings generally resemble other ancient literary works of similar literary genres (vassal treaties, collections of laws, literary legends, folk tales, family sagas, historical narratives, etc.), and therefore it is possible to understand adequately the biblical writings by using methods developed in literary criticism to interpret literary works which belong to a given literary genre. However, my own research on the phenomenon of sequential hypertextuality in biblical writings shows that the Bible may be quite unique in its extensive, systematic, detailed use of the procedure of sequential hypertextual reworking of earlier texts. Therefore, in order to maintain the standards of interpretative objectivity, the biblical writings should be analysed against the background of other writings of the same kind, so in this case other biblical, hypertextual writings, and not merely other ancient texts of only apparently similar literary genres.

Deuteronomy and Ezekiel

As is well known, there are several basic models used by modern scholars to explain the literary origin of the book of Deuteronomy. Most of them postulate a diachronically complex origin of this work, beginning with the hypothetical Ur-Deuteronomium.21 However, the problem of the literary relationship between the books of Deuteronomy and Ezekiel, which according to this monograph is crucial for the understanding of the origin of Deuteronomy, is seldom analysed in recent scholarship.

Paul Nadim Tarazi is one of the few modern scholars who explicitly dealt with the problem of the relationship between the books of Deuteronomy and Ezekiel. He suggested that Deuteronomy’s repetition of the covenant for the new generation of the Israelites, together with the command to repeat it unto all generations, reflects Ezekiel’s idea that no generation would be able to claim the excuse of ignorance for their sins (Ezek 18:1–5.9.20).22

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Henry McKeating observed that there are intriguing parallels between the contents of the book of Ezekiel and the story of Moses in the Pentateuch. Following the proposal which had earlier been made by Jon Douglas Levenson, McKeating argued that the character of Ezekiel fulfils the Deuteronomic prophecy concerning a prophet like Moses (Deut 18:15–22). In particular, according to the British scholar, Ezekiel’s survey of the land (Ezek 47:13–48:29) thematically corresponds to Moses’ survey of the land (Deut 34:1–4). Likewise, Ezekiel’s warnings against a prince who would expropriate land (Ezek 45:7–17; 46:16–18) corresponds to Deuteronomy’s worries that the king might multiply horses and cause the people to return to Egypt (Deut 17:14–20). Moreover, Ezekiel’s final vision of the land on a high mountain (Ezek 40–48) is not closed with a remark that he was transported home again (diff. Ezek 11:24), so that it thematically corresponds to Moses’ final vision from the mountain, which ends with his death and his burial in an unknown grave (Deut 34).23

Risa Levitt Kohn likewise argued for a literary relationship between Ezekiel and Deuteronomy, assuming that the direction of postulated dependence goes from Deuteronomy to Ezekiel because, in her opinion, Ezekiel combined P and D material.24

Ernst Ehrenreich, having noted some parallels between Deut 30:1–10 and the book of Ezekiel, simply assumed that it was Ezekiel who used Deuteronomy, and not vice versa.25

Tova Ganzel, in her article devoted to the relationship between Ezekiel and Deuteronomy, noted that the ‘determination of the direction of the allusions is grounded in the widely accepted assumption, following Noth, that Deuteronomy and the Early Prophets constitute a single planned work […], composed shortly before the destruction of the First Temple.’26 Nevertheless, she simply followed this assumption, presuming that the direction of influence goes from the allegedly pre-exilic Deuteronomy to the exilic Ezekiel, and not vice versa.27

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Jason Gile is of the opinion that Ezekiel in his prophetic work was influenced by Deuteronomy and the Holiness Code.28 The American scholar investigated the Deuteronomic and Ezekielian motif of scattering as related to exile and then proceeded to argue for the direction of dependence from Deuteronomy to Ezekiel. He based his argument on the hypothesis of Deuteronomy’s use of the Holiness Code,29 a thesis which is in itself not proven. Then he observed that the combination of the motifs of exile and serving wood and stone (עץ ואבן) occurs in Deut 4:28; 28:36.64 and Ezek 20:32. On this basis, he argued that Ezekiel must have borrowed this combination from Deuteronomy, and not vice versa,30 although his argument is clearly reversible, even if in this case the dependence of one passage in Ezekiel on three passages in Deuteronomy is more plausible than the reverse one. Moreover, Gile argued that the retrospective text Ezek 20:23 must refer to the proleptic threat in Deut 4:25–28,31 although a similar proleptic threat can also be found in Jer 9:11–15. Therefore, Gile’s arguments for Ezekiel’s dependence on Deuteronomy are interesting but inconclusive.

Georg Braulik has recently argued that the theological idea and wording of the Deuteronomic text concerning the fathers not dying for their sons, and the sons not dying for their fathers, but a man dying for his sins (Deut 24:16) were in fact borrowed from Ezek 18:20.32 He has likewise suggested that the Deuteronomic remark concerning a cult symbol (סמל) may allude to the Ezekielian motif of a cult symbol provoking to jealousy (Ezek 8:3.5).33

Nevada Levi DeLapp argues for the dependence of Ezekiel’s experience of the Kabod (Ezek 1; 8–11; 43) on Deut 34:10 and the Exodus theophanic type-scene. However, since his analysis is concentrated on the Pentateuchal theophanic type-scenes, his suggestions concerning the relationship between the book of Ezekiel ←20 | 21→and Deuteronomy are rather vague, left for elaboration in further research.34 The American scholar only notes possible connections between Ezekiel’s and Deuteronomy’s references to (a) Yahweh being both seen and not seen, and (b) his kabodic shroud shining in a veiled manner ‘from the midst of the fire’ (מתוך האש: Ezek 1:4).35

This survey of recent research on the relationship between Deuteronomy and Ezekiel reveals that the problem has not been hitherto sufficiently analysed and solved. Scholars have noted some parallels between both works, but they have not developed a comprehensive model for their integration into a broader literary or theological pattern.

Moreover, scholars generally assume that the book of Ezekiel depended on the book of Deuteronomy, and not vice versa. However, few exegetical arguments have been deployed for this hypothesis. This fact mainly results from the traditional dating of the hypothetical Ur-Deuteronomium to the pre-exilic period, before the composition of the book of Ezekiel, so that scholars are more inclined to accept this direction of dependence. Moreover, they argue that even if the book of Ezekiel has some common features with the book of Deuteronomy, it also has some common features with the so-called Priestly (or Holiness) stratum in the Pentateuch. However, they rarely analyse the limitations of the use of the criterion of conflation and other criteria for ascertaining the direction of literary dependence between the book of Ezekiel and the works contained in the Pentateuch.

As concerns the notoriously difficult question of the direction of literary dependence between various biblical writings, especially those between the book of Ezekiel and Pentateuchal texts, Michael A. Lyons, developing the ideas which are contained in the works of many other scholars,36 proposed four criteria to ←21 | 22→establish these directions.37 In fact, however, his criterion of modification in line with one author’s distinctive ideas logically resembles his criterion of expansions which are interpreting the other text. Both criteria are reversible because one can also imagine a later author omitting certain distinctive ideas of the earlier text or abbreviating its too expanded form.38

The scholar’s two other criteria, namely that of only partial integration of the shared text into one of the contexts and that of the need of supplying information from one text to understand the other text,39 are also logically correlated with each other. They refer to the incongruity or obscurity of the shared text in one of the analysed texts. These two criteria are not reversible as far as the incongruity or obscurity in question is barely perceivable. If it is rather evident, one can also imagine the later author as correcting the easily noticeable incongruity or obscurity in the earlier text.40 Of course, opinions on what is barely perceivable and what is evident can be highly subjective. However, they are more objective if they are formulated in the context of the state of research on a given text. If an incongruity or obscurity is perceived by some scholars but not by the majority of them, then it can be regarded as barely perceivable, and consequently it may point to the fact and the direction of literary dependence on another text.

The two other criteria mentioned by Lyons, namely that of conflation (A + B → AB) and that of splitting and recombination (AB → A + B),41 are in fact mutually opposite, so that their value for ascertaining the direction of literary dependence is rather limited.42

Therefore, the application of the criteria proposed by Lyons and other scholars rarely solves the problem of the direction of dependence between two given literary works.43 In fact, the hypotheses concerning the direction of literary dependence between various biblical writings should inevitably be supplemented with more general scholarly considerations concerning the history of the composition ←22 | 23→of biblical texts. This observation also applies to the question of the relationship between the book of Deuteronomy and the book of Ezekiel.

Joshua–Judges and Deuteronomy

As is well known, the books of Joshua and Judges are generally regarded by modern scholars as somehow related to Deuteronomy. Recent research on the Former Prophets is generally dominated by variants of literary-theological hypotheses which assign the book of Joshua to the larger literary compositions of either the Hexateuch or the Deuteronomistic history. In these hypotheses, the book of Joshua is regarded as para-Deuteronomic, in terms of the presence of common literary strata, and possibly also partly post-Deuteronomic.44 The issue is additionally complicated by the fact that many scholars diachronically differentiate between various literary strata in the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Judges, especially in their cores and frames. Therefore, the thesis that various fragments of Joshua–Judges are literarily dependent on some parts of Deuteronomy, especially the hypothetical Ur-Deuteronomium, is not knew.

Overviews of recent research on the composition of the books of Joshua and Judges can be found in numerous publications.45 Therefore, the following survey will only refer to scholarly opinions which somehow concern the issue of possible literary dependence of the books of Joshua and Judges on the book of Deuteronomy or vice versa.

Herbert Donner, having noted the fact that various fragments of the book of Joshua refer to the book of the law (Josh 1:8; 8:30–31; 8:34; etc.), argued that they presuppose the existence of the whole book of Deuteronomy, which is referred to in the book of Joshua as a normative text.46

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Koert van Bekkum, having analysed the ways in which the themes of cult, land, and leadership function in Josh 9:1–13:7 and Deuteronomy, has come to the conclusion that the section Josh 9:1–13:7 diachronically presupposes much of the content of the book of Deuteronomy.47


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2021 (January)
Book of Deuteronomy Book of Joshua Book of Judges Book of Ezekiel Intertextuality Israel
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2020. 262 pp.

Biographical notes

Bartosz Adamczewski (Author)

Bartosz Adamczewski is Associate Professor of biblical sciences at Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw (Poland). He has published eleven books and numerous articles on the relationships between biblical writings themselves, and between them and historical facts.


Title: Deuteronomy–Judges