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SBL 2008 Day 4

November 25, 2008

The last morning (Tuesday) involved a lot of running around for me. There were interesting papers in Pentateuch and Assyria and the Bible. Luckily, both were on the same floor, and my lovely wife could watch my laptop in the Pentateuch room while I went to hear about Gilgamesh.

In the Pentateuch section, Kevin A. Wilson (Wartburg College) presented on “The Demotion of the Levites in P and H .” Wilson had previously given a paper posing the correct order of the priestly material as Priestly Tradition, Ezekiel and the Holiness School corpora. He uses it here, but his main methodology is uses more standard source-critical tools. PT strata of the rebellion of Korah in Num 16-18 do not portray him as a Levite. Ezekiel 44 makes use of this PT material when he rails against Levite and sets about their demotion and expulsion from the cult. The HS then writes this Ezekiel material into Num 16-18, but turns the demotion of the Levites into a promotion – they serve as a buffer between the people and the sanctuary. Makes sense, but questions of whether Ezekiel 44 is authored by the prophet haunt me. Perhaps I need to reread Kevin’s earlier arguments based on linguistic evidence to see if this answers my concerns. (He had to catch a plane before the session was over.)

I then ran down the hall and hit Karen Sonik’s (University of Pennsylvania) paper “Breaking Bread with Huwawa: What Gilgamesh Should Have Done” in the Assyria and the Bible section. This paper was wonderful. Sonik compares the Sumerian tale of Bilgames and Huwawa and Lugalbanda. The two tales have very different outcomes largely because of the differing reaction of their heroic protagonists to the monsters of order they encounter. In light of Enlil’s angry comments at the end of the Bilgames story, Bilgames acted poorly – not at all on the model of his heroic father.

I ran back to the Pentateuch section in time to hear Mark Leuchter (Temple University colleague) present on “The Occasions of Redaction in Deuteronomy.” Leuchter sees Deut 31:9-12 points to the ritual occasion for the proclamation of the text of Deuteronomy as well as a mechanism to highlight Levite led learning and dissemination of their literary creation. The (levitical) authors of Deuteronomy designed the book to be revised and updated as needed. But, the placement of Deuteronomy in the Pentateuch placed it in a stricter redactional paradigm similar to that posited by Karel van der Toorn.

(BTW: Mark wants everyone to know that his article “‘The Prophets’ and ‘The Levites’ in Josiah’s Covenant Ceremony” will be published in first ZAW of 2009.)

  1. November 25, 2008 11:19 pm

    It was good to see you today. Sorry I had to duck out before the session was over. My parents were arriving by plane from Tennessee, so I had to pick them up at the airport. I hated missing Mark’s paper.

    I am not sure myself whether Ezekiel 40-48 was written by Ezekiel. I referred to the author as Ezekiel simply as a matter of convenience, but I don’t think it changes the argument must if it is written by a later Ezekiel School. The linguistic data, which is based on Ezekiel 1-39, could not then be used to date Ezekiel 40-48 relative to HS, but I think the fact that HS seems to be reading Ezekiel 44 back into Numbers 16-18 would still suggest that HS is later than Ezekiel 40-48, even if 40-48 are later than the time of the prophet Ezekiel.

    • Mark Leuchter permalink
      July 31, 2009 1:07 pm

      Hi Jim and Kevin…justr seeing this NOW, many months removed from the event itself. I think I have to agree with Kevin that H postdates Ezekiel. I think there’s a fair amount of Ezekiel’s actual teaching in chs. 40-48, even if they have been arranged into their current form by subsequent tradents. But it is becoming increasingly clear to me that H is developing ideas and taking up rhetorical tropes from both Jeremiah and Deuteronomy as well as the mature version of the book of Kings. I’m working on a super duper top secret article on this, but I’ll share it with you both in advance as soon as I have it ready to read. In the interim, see my forthcoming VT piece on Nehemiah and Leviticus…I have a lengthy footnotes proposing a more complex relationship between P and H toward the end of the article.

      Regards from London at the moment,


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