Some scholars have argued for a Deuteronomistic editing of the prophetic corpus. What

evidence is there for such a contention? How does this evidence affect our understanding

of the development of prophecy in ancient Israel?

Introduction/Summary: A Dtr Redaction of the Latter Prophets?

The idea that the latter prophets underwent a Dtr redaction goes back to Werner H. Schmidt and Hans Walter Wolff. Shmidt's analysis of Amos found signs of a Dtr redaction in the book of Amos, while Wolff's study of Joel and Amos also finds similar signs.

Micah and Hosea were also ascribed a Dtr redaction, as well as Malachi, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Zephaniah, and Zechariah. The trend to ascribe a Dtr redaction to the majority of the latter prophets has been coined as "pan-deuteronomism." 

Although the methodology/criteria for determining a Dtr redaction is not all that consistent or standardized, there are a number of features that have been used to establish or find Dtr features in the latter prophets. The following two general features have been used to find Dtr features in the latter prophets– 1) language (phrases, expressions, words, etc); 2) content (themes, theology, motifs, ideas, biases, etc.). In the latter group, a big theme is "covenantal" themes, "going after foreign gods," and judgement/retribution themes. 

But other scholars have urged caution in ascribing a Dtr redaction to the entirety of the prophetic corpus. They argue that the similarities in language and content in the D/DH and the latter prophets is not necessarily a sign of a Dtr redaction of the prophets. It's possible to interpret these shared features otherwise. 

Dtr and Jeremiah & Isaiah/Ezekiel


Role of oration in DH is to furnish ideological grounds of theodicy. (for division of united kingdom, end of Jeroboam dynasty, fall of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah are all theologically justified in speeches of God’s servants, the prophets). Sermons of a similar tendency are ascribed to Jeremiah, herald of Judah’s doom.

(Weinfeld 27) Duhm was the first to call attention to the prose sermons in the book of Jer and to assign them to a Dtr editor

Mowinckel analyzed the sermons, demonstrated their distinctive features. Attributed the following to the Dtr (3:6-13; 7:1-8:3; 11:1-5; 39:15-18; 44:1-14; 45:1-5; and much more!)

But Bright showed that the biographical narratives, whose authenticity is

unquestioned, very often provide the setting or the framework for a prose oracle. But Bright does allow for expansions in the sermons, which swarm w/Dtr clichés. It is the clichés which enable us to distinguish b/w the genuine and non-genuine in the prose oracles.

It seems, therefore, that homiletic passages were appended to the original by an editor whose vocab and system of work justify our referring to him as Dtr.

Jeremiah is divided into a) narratives about Jeremiah's life; b) sermonic prose passages; and c) oracles against foreign nations. Collins writes that Both a) and b) show signs of Dtr editing while c) is the work of Dtr itself. What exactly is similar between Jeremiah and Dtr?

Jeremiah's sermons against the worship of foreign gods (Jer 7-8; 10), focus on covenant and language of husband/wife to speak of God/Israel (Jer 11, 31), and threats of punishment (Jer 26) clearly resemble Dtr theology. The Deuteronomic language of Jeremiah's sermons are probably interpretation by Dtr editors. The conditional nature of the covenant is a them in both Dtr and in Jeremiah.

Similar language: "brought them out of Egypt," "on every high hill," "obstinacy of heart," "they went after Baals."

These thematic and linguistic similarities between DH and Jeremiah suggest that Jeremiah was edited by Dtr editors!

Isaiah and Ezekiel

Isaiah–Hermann Barth suggested that the hopeful outlook of Dtr in Josiah's early reign is reflected in the oracles of Isaiah. Isaiah is supposedly congenial toward a Dtr outloook. Zimmerli noted some Dtr themes in Isaiah. Some Dtr candidates are the giving of rain (Isa 30:23; Deut 11:11), increased agricultural production (Isa 30:23-24; Deut 14:22, 28), idolatry (Isa 30:22; Deut 9:12), and the shift in the number of 2nd person is deuternomistic.

In Ezekiel, the visions of restoration are taken as reflecting a Dtr hand. Ezek 34:25-30 are taken as Dtr because they concern the covenant.

Dtr and Hosea

Scholars also point to affinities b/w Hosea and Deut.

These include condemnation of worship on the high places, the sin of increasing altars,

pillars, high places. (Chronologically, Hosea is close to Hezekiah, says Weinfeld, who was the first to abolish high places); also in common are polemics with idolatry (“man- made gods”). It seems therefore that the polemics with idolatry that started at the time of Hosea and Isaiah had been developed by the deuteronomic scribes and had reached their apogee in Deutero-Isaiah;

•The language of Hosea (and Jeremiah) which resembles husband/wife imagery between Israel and God echoes Dtr language. Hosea 1:9–I will be their God and they shall be my people. 

The idea that God’s cov is based on the Torah, so salient in Deut, is also given expression in Hos 8.1. to violate the cov is the same as in the deut literature: avar berit, notion of “forgetting God,” and, perhaps most significantly, their common treatment of the love between God and Israel.

A minor point of contact b/w Deut and Hosea is the menace of returning to Egypt, expressed in similar language.

The idea of return to God is likewise similarly expressed in Deuteronomy and in Hosea.

Dtr and Other Prophets

It has been claimed that the Minor Prophets (e.g., Hosea, Amos, Micah, Zephaniah, also Jeremiah) have similar introductory verses connecting them to kings known from Dtr (cp. 2Kgs 14:23; 15:1). This is taken to reveal a Dtr redaction.

Amos has Dtr themes–election (Amos 3:2) and exodus from Egypt (2:10-12).

Micah 5:9-14 (eng., 5:10-15), 6, and 7 have been ascribed to the Dtr's hand. Themes of covenant, worshipping foreign gods, and God's restoration of Israel appear here. Also, the defense of the poor (Mic 3:1-2; Deut 15:4) and the corruption of the justice system (Mic 3:9; Deut 16:18-20) are Dtr.

Malachi has general Dtr features such as obedience produces blessing. Also, phrases and themes such as "the Lord as One God" (Mal 2:15) and father-son relationship (Mal 1:16) are Deuteronomistic.

Zechariah 9-14 has Dtr features. It has Dtr language.

Zephaniah echoes the futility curse (Zeph 1:13; Deut 28:30).


If there was indeed a full redaction of the prophets by Dtr, this affects our understanding of the authorship of the prophets. Carroll, in his commentary on Jeremiah, suggests that much of Jeremiah comes to us through a Dtr filter; (Clements also shares such a view of Jeremiah 1-25). Additionally, in other works, Carroll claims that almost "nothing in the prophetic corpus reflects realities of pre-exilic Israel and that what we know as pre-exilic prophecy was actually created in the post-exilic period by the Deuteronomists and then retrojected into an earlier period" (Wilson p.77). This view is shared by Auld. Thus, this view claims that the Deuteronomists shaped the latter prophets and were in essence responsible for the creation of prophecy in ancient Israel!

Wilson argues against this view, however. The main arguement against this pan-dtr approach is that prophecy existed elsewhere in the ANE. Thus, we can accept Biblical claims that it also existed in Israel before the exile. We don't have to view classical prophecy as a exilic/post-exilic creation on the part of Dtr!

Additionally, Kugler and Ben Zvi have argued that the mere presence of similar language and themes in D/DH and the prophets is NOT a solid argument for a Dtr redaction of the prophets! First, similarity in language and content exists throughout the majority of the Bible. So, we would have to say that the entire Biblical corpus was edited by Dtr! (In fact, certain scholars claim that Dtr edited not only the latter Prophets but also the Torah and the Writings). Wilson nicely states that "if everybody is the Deuteronomist, then there may be no Deuteronomist at all" (Wilson p.82). Secondly, it's possible to interpret these shared features otherwise. In the case of Hosea, one can suggest that Hosea influenced Dtr. In regard to other prophets, one can suggest that they were influenced by Dtr or shared a similar viewpoint. But this does not mean that the prophets underwent a complete redaction or editing process!

Other problems with the pan-dtr approach is the lack of a consistent methodology as well as the lack of a consensus on the time frame when this Dtr activity took place.


A. Deuteronomistic School.

E. W. Nicholson (1967) and M. Weinfeld (1972) contend that the DH was the product of a circle of Deuteronomistic traditionalists. 

(1) Nicholson’s view:

* Ancient traditions preserved & transmitted by northern prophetic circles. 

* 721 B.C.E., these circles fled S to Judah with their traditions. 

* They supported Hezekiah’s doomed reform movement. 

* During Manasseh’s reign (ca. 687–642 B.C.E.), these tradents drew up their own reform program partly on traditional materials. 

* Central doctrine: centralization of the cult in Jerusalem (from Davidic royal theology connected to 2 Sam 7). 

* This program produced early form of Deut. 

* A copy was deposited in the Temple, being discovered during Josiah’s reign

becoming foundation for Josiah’s reform. 

* Deuteronomistic school revived then, generating DH. 

* He agreed with Noth’s date for the final form of the DH, despite late pre-exilic


(2) Weinfeld’s 3-stage view:

* (1) Deut (2nd half 7th c.), (2) editing of Josh-Kgs (1st half 6th c.), and (3) writing Jeremiah’s prose sermons (latter half of 6th c.).

* Deuteronomistic literary activity began time of Hezekiah continued into exile 

* Final form of the DH exile. 

* He located school responsible for DH in Israelite wisdom tradition.

• Many invaluable insights esp adductions from ANE parallel texts 

• arguments for wisdom circle connections not convincing

•• too broad a characterization of wisdom, and

•• thematic similarities b/w wisdom literature and DH too general. 

* Never clear what a “school” or “circle” was, and literary evidence alone insufficient

to reconstruct a social institution responsible for the production of the DH.

The role of the Deuteronomic School in composing or redacting other literature

Extent of D in HB

- Scholars have identified the hand of the Deuteronomistic editor in virtually every corner of HB

- Prophets (especially Jeremiah), Writings, Wisdom, etc.

- Robert Wilson has cautioned against “pan-Deuteronomism”

- If everyone is the Deuteronomist, then it is a meaningless designation

- Deuteronomistic school has increasingly been seen as playing a part in the editing of many books

- Perlitt’s criticized Mendenhall’s thesis that covenant was ancient because the idea of covenant as an obligation is developed by Dtr, whom he dated to 8th C at the earliest; this argument prompted scholars to see Dtr editing as much more pervasive (Wilson)

- Dtr’s influence in the HB

- Deuteronomy and the DtrH (Former Prophets) according to the original theory proposed by Noth

- Pentateuch – influence of D outside of Deut was originally thought to be minimal, although suggestions that it’s more pervasive have been offered (Rendtorff, Blum)

- Major Prophets – Substantial Dtr in Jeremiah, parts of Isaiah, links with Ezekiel (Coggins summarizes this trend)

- Minor Prophets – share a common introductory opening; this is taken as a sign of Dtr redaction (Jermiah, Hosea, Amos, Micah, Zephaniah); opening resembles 2Kgs 14:23; 15:1

- Some Psalms

- Books without signs of Dtr seen as rebelling against Dtr (Job, Ecclesiastes)

- 8th-3rd C activity has been seen for the school, but there is no external evidence for such a wide-ranging and influential movement (Coggins)

- Early attempts to associate the Deuteronomists with specific, known groups

- Levites (von Rad)

- Part of or heirs to the prophetic tradition (Nicholson

- Associated with the wisdom schools (Weinfeld)

- More recent movement toward taking the Deuteronomists on their own terms 

- A reforming party with members from multiple group (Clements) or individual(s), like Baruch or/ and Jeremiah (R.E. Friedman)

- Charges of Pan Deuteronomism (Wilson) – many scholars saw Dtr as the final redactor and editor of HB

- Robert Carroll argued that whole prophetic corpus reflects the realities of exile and not pre-exilic times, making Deuteronomism responsible for the creation of Israelite prophecy

- However, prophecy well-attested in ANE – not invented by Dtr (Wilson)

- Problems with Pan-Deuteronomism (Wilson)

- Scholars don’t agree on criteria for Dtr

- Linguistic analysis is promising for establishing such criteria, but what if Dtr prose only reflects a common dialect? Dtr’s vocabulary is small and necessarily shared with other parts of HB

- Thematic criteria for Dtr are also shared with other groups (covenant, for example)

- Scholars have been unable to reconstruct a coherent account of Deuteronomism, especially one that explains their involvement in editing

- Dtr was either more diverse and variegated or it is a category that should be abandoned (Wilson)

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