The Catholic University of America

Final Examination

Matthew Bowen

for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

9:30a.m., Caldwell Hall, Room 125




“According to all that you demanded” (Deut 18:16): The Literary use of names and leitwort as antimonarchic polemic in the deuteronomistic History


Director: Rev. Christopher Begg, S.T.D., Ph.D.


The Deuteronomistic History (Dtr) is a story with a message for Israel in exile. It tells the story of Israel’s leadership from its entry, under Moses and Joshua, into the land covenanted to its ancestors to its eventual expulsion from the land under monarchy. The story begins with the people’s “request” for distance from Yhwh, a request granted in the form of intermediary prophetic leadership (Deut 18:15-22). Thereafter, Israel’s deteriorating leadership situation results in further “requests.” Human kingship, which Israel “demands” (1 Samuel 8) to remedy its leadership’s failures, swiftly leads—except in rare instances—to even greater national apostasy. Israel, Judah, and their “demanded” monarchies’ sins culminate in exile from the land.

This study explores Dtr’s thematic use of onomastic wordplay in his narrative evaluations of some of the principal figures involved in the rise and eventual fall of the monarchy in Israel and Judah, this in terms of the legislation of Deuteronomy. The names and biographies of Samuel and Saul are linked together by the Leitwort š??al (“ask,” “request,” “beg,” “demand”). The tragic arcs of David and his heir Solomon-Jedidiah’s lives are told in terms of the Leitwort ??hab/??h?b (“love”) and its antonyms. The Leitwort *šlm/š?lôm links David’s sons Absalom and Solomon to Dtr’s concern for Israel’s loss of “peace” and “wholeness” with Yhwh and itself. Rather than enjoying eternal dynastic “peace” from Yhwh as boasted by Solomon (1 Kgs 2:33), David’s house, including its “good” kings, experience a “peace” that fits Yhwh’s program of “recompensing” Judah for its covenant violations. The fate of the priestly house of Eli is typological of the fate of Israel and Judah’s royal houses as evident in Dtr’s thematic play on the name “Ichabod” (“Where is the Glory?”). Dtr also plays on the names of Tiglath-pileser and Nebuchadnezzar, Israel and Judah’s exilers and final despoilers, in terms of g?lâ and ?ô??r. Josiah’s name is reinterpreted positively in terms of Deuteronomic “fire,” but also recalling the proto-king Abimelech (Judges 9). The message to the exiles is one of warning about the nature of its “requests” from Yhwh, perhaps especially regarding Jehoiachin’s son Shealtiel after the death of the former in exile.